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Fund Times: Thornburg Promotes New CEO

Plus, changes at UBS, Vanguard, Fidelity, and more.

Morningstar Analysts, 01/14/2008

Thornburg Investment Management's president and chief investment officer, Brian McMahon, is now its CEO as well. McMahon took over lead duties from Garrett Thornburg, the firm's founder, on Jan. 1. Thornburg remains its chairman. McMahon is a veteran of the firm since 1984 and has managed both bond and equity portfolios within the shop's lineup of 14 funds, which total $54 billion in assets. He stays on the portfolio-management teams of both Thornburg Investment Income Builder TIBAX and Thornburg Global Opportunities THOAX.

Vanguard Plans Succession at Two Subadvised Funds
Manager-succession plans at Vanguard Growth & Income VQNPX and Vanguard Morgan Growth VMRGX are now official. This week Vanguard announced that Oliver Buckley, chief investment officer of subadvisor Franklin Portfolio Associates, will become a comanager to these funds. Franklin is the lone subadvisor for Growth & Income and one of four subadvisor firms for Morgan Growth. Prior to this move, John Cone, Franklin's CEO and chairman, was the firm's only manager for these funds, which it has subadvised since 1986 and 1990, respectively. Cone has worked on the funds since 1999. Buckley has 20 years of experience in the business, including seven at Franklin. In July 2008, he will take over all of Franklin Portfolio Associates' responsibilities on these two funds.

UBS Updates Mix at Two Funds, Modifies Global Team
Brian Singer, lead manager of UBS Global Allocation BPGLX and UBS Dynamic Alpha BNAAX, stepped down Dec. 17, 2007. On Dec. 28, UBS named lieutenants Edwin Denson and Tom Clarke as comanagers on Global Allocation. Denson formerly served as an analyst on the fund's Asset Allocation and Strategy Team, and Clarke heads up UBS' global currency investment efforts. At Dynamic Alpha the duo will be joined by Neil Williams, who heads up UBS' multiasset strategies. Curt Custard, who formerly headed up the multiasset units at Schroeders and Allianz in London, will fill Singer's CIO role and join both funds as a comanager in March 2008.

The firm also adjusted the structure of its Global Equities team that oversees UBS Global Equity BPGEX. Nicholas Melhuish, who took over as the firm's head of global equities in October 2007, is centralizing the fund's portfolio-management team in London. As part of the consolidation, Chicago-based former lead manager Bruno Bertocci will become one of three senior portfolio managers reporting to Melhuish. Rounding out the trio are Ilario Di Bon and newly appointed Nick Irish, who will join UBS from HSBC Halbis in March 2008.

Fidelity Mid-Cap Fund Gets Rookie Manager
Fidelity Mid Cap Growth
FSMGX has a new skipper. Patrick Venanzi has taken over the fund, managed by Bahaa Fam since February 2004. Under Fam's watch, the fund lagged rivals: It gained 9.3% annually, on average, versus the typical competitor's 11.6% tally. So, Fidelity brings Venanzi on board with hopes of a turnaround. Although he has no prior experience running a mutual fund, Venanzi has served as an analyst covering several industries since first arriving at Fidelity in 2000, and he has worked on both the firm's small- and mid-cap equities teams.

Aston Joins Fund-of-ETFs Craze
A new fund-of-ETFs, Aston/Smart Allocation ETF Fund ASENX, is now available. It launches with a 1.47% expense ratio, with subadvisor Smart Labs (of Lake Forest Park, Wash.) responsible for its management. Smart Labs will invest at least 80% of assets in ETFs. Additionally, it plans to invest the majority of assets in equities and a minority of them in bonds, but it will tailor the mix based on proprietary quantitative and qualitative research and may invest in other asset classes as well.

STI Classic Funds Add 130/30 Subadvisor
STI Classic Funds has launched three separate 130/30 vehicles focused on domestic equities, international equities, and real estate, respectively. Alpha Equity Management will serve as sole subadvisor. Alpha Equity has been in business for nearly eight years, with six years' experience managing assets in the aforementioned styles, for institutional accounts and high-net-worth clients (but not for mutual funds with public track records). The popularity of 130/30 strategies continues to grow; according to STI's press release, as much as $100 billion across the globe may now be in such strategies.

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