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Fund Times: Another Manager Leaves Janus

Plus, Aston launches five new funds, Northern Trust's first ETFs, and more.

Morningstar Analysts, 11/12/2007

Minyoung Sohn, manager of Janus Growth and Income JAGIX and Janus Fundamental Equity JAEIX, has resigned, becoming the fifth high-profile manager to leave the Denver fund shop this year.

Sohn, who joined Janus as an equity analyst in 1998 and quickly rose through ranks, ran Growth and Income for three years and Fundamental Equity for two years. During his short tenure, Sohn molded these funds into promising large-blend offerings. We named him one of four rising stars of the mutual fund world in a recent article.

Marc Pinto, comanager of Janus Balanced JABAX, will succeed Sohn on Growth and Income. He has led the equity piece of Janus Balanced since 2005 and has been with the firm since 1994. Janus will seek shareholder and board approval to merge Fundamental Equity into the analyst-run Janus Research JAMRX. In the interim, the firm's head of research, Jim Goff, will run Fundamental Equity with Janus' equity research team.

Janus' struggle to retain talent is troubling. Sohn's departure follows two other significant manager departures. Janus Fund's JANSX veteran manager, David Corkins, resigned a week ago, and Janus Twenty's JAVLX longtime manager, Scott Schoelzel, said in August that he will leave at the end of this year. Also, Janus Global Technology's JAGTX Brad Slingerlend and Janus Global Life Science's JAGLX Tom Malley both left in May. Overall, Janus' bench of experienced managers is growing dangerously thin.

Aston Launches Five Subadvised Funds
Aston Asset Management recently added five funds--two international and three mid-cap stock--to its lineup: Aston/Barings International, Aston/SGA International Small-Mid Cap, Aston/Montag & Caldwell Mid Cap Growth, Aston/ClariVest Mid Cap Growth, and Aston/Cardinal Mid Cap Value. Aston/Barings International will be subadvised by Baring Asset Management, which will utilize a growth-at-a-reasonable-price approach. Aston/SGA International Small-Mid Cap will be subadvised by quant shop Strategic Global Advisors. Aston will also expand its existing relationship with Montag & Caldwell through the introduction of the fundamentally driven Aston/Montag & Caldwell Mid Cap Growth. ClariVest Asset Management will utilize a quantitative approach, and Cardinal Capital Management will use a fundamental approach. These latest additions bring Aston's fund lineup to 27.

Legg Mason Value to Expand Holdings
In his latest letter to shareholders, Legg Mason Value LMVTX guru Bill Miller says he will expand portfolio holdings for Legg Mason Value, the firm's flagship fund. Miller's reason behind this planned expansion is to reduce risk as valuations are relatively flat across industries. Although he did not indicate the degree of this expansion, he has written that the Value portfolio will "own more stocks, and in new industries." The veteran manager also plans to reduce weightings of the fund's top 10 holdings to lower security-specific risk and free up funding for new portfolio holdings.PAGEBREAK

Muni Manager Leaves Vanguard, Prompting Manager Shuffle
Christopher Ryon, manager of five Vanguard muni-bond funds, has left the firm to pursue other interests. Veteran muni manager Reid Smith has replaced him on Vanguard Intermediate-Term Tax-Exempt VWITX, Vanguard Long-Term Tax-Exempt VWLTX, and the bond portion of Vanguard Tax-Managed Balanced VTMFX. John Carbone has assumed management responsibilities for Vanguard New York Long-Term Tax-Exempt VNYTX and Vanguard Massachusetts Tax-Exempt VMATX. He currently manages six other Vanguard state muni funds.

Northern Trust Readies Its First ETFs
Northern Trust is seeking to get into the ETF marketplace. The Chicago-based firm recently filed plans with the Securities and Exchange Commission for 27 ETFs that will be branded as "NETS." Northern Trust filed for 20 country-specific funds, four REIT funds, and three global funds. It is unknown how these ETFs will compete costwise with those of the market's largest players, Barclays, State Street, Vanguard, and Bank of New York.

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