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ING Pays Big Fine

Plus, Franklin Templeton enters the ETF space and more.

Morningstar Fund Analysts, 06/14/2012

ING Bank announced it will pay a $619 million penalty in order to settle allegations it violated U.S. economic sanctions against countries such as Cuba and Iran. According to U.S. legal authorities, the firm illegally moved more than $2 billion for its clients in those countries through banks in the United States in the 1990s and 2000s. The fine is reportedly the largest ever levied by a bank for violating sanctions. ING said in a press release that it has strengthened its compliance capabilities to prevent a similar situation from recurring. ING Bank is part of the Netherlands-based financial giant ING Group. The firm's asset management arm, which includes the U.S. mutual fund lineup, was not involved in the violations. The asset management group has been preparing itself for a possible spin-off. These recent revelations are likely to reinforce management's desire to separate itself from the parent firm.

Franklin Templeton Enters ETF Space
Franklin Templeton has joined a long list of mutual fund companies that are jumping into the exchange-traded-fund business. The firm recently filed with the SEC to launch actively managed ETFs, including its initial offering, Franklin Templeton Short Duration Government ETF. The company is eyeing products in other asset classes, too. Franklin Templeton isn't the only big fund company to try to grab a piece of the over $1 trillion in assets sitting in ETFs. Firms such as T. Rowe Price TROW and J.P. Morgan Chase JPM have already announced their intentions to launch ETFs.  PIMCO Total Return ETF BOND, the ETF version of the bond shop's flagship mutual fund, has attracted $1.4 billion in assets after being on the market for just over three months.

Another Fund Dumps Tradewinds
Tradewinds Global Investors is no longer a subadvisor for the $2 billion Northern Multi-Manager International Equity NMIEX. It will add EARNEST Partners as a subadvisor on June 15, 2012. Tradewinds has experienced its fair share of bad news since David Iben, the firm's president and chief investment officer, announced he would exit the shop at the end of June 2012 and take several coworkers with him. Since then, the firm has experienced asset outflows in its strategies and has been removed as a subadvisor on several funds, including GuideStone Funds International Equity GIEYX.

Fidelity Adds to Stock Selector Lineup
Fidelity launched Fidelity Stock Selector Mid Cap on June 12, 2012. This fund is a Retail share class of the Neutral-rated Fidelity Advisor Stock Selector Mid Cap, FMCDX, which launched in 1996 and currently holds $1.7 billion in assets. Like the firm's other Stock Selector funds, a group of sector and industry specialists independently manage sleeves. The fund tries to beat its benchmark with stock-picking rather than sector bets.

Fidelity currently offers three other Stock Selector strategies to retail investors: Fidelity Stock Selector Large Cap Value FSLVX, Fidelity Stock Selector All Cap  FDSSX, and Fidelity Stock Selector Small Cap FDSCX. The firm also runs 17 mid-cap stock funds.

USAA Builds Out Target-Risk Lineup
USAA launched four asset allocation funds on June 8, 2012, to build out a suite of six target-risk funds. The firm launched USAA Cornerstone Aggressive, USAA Cornerstone Conservative, USAA Cornerstone Equity, and USAA Cornerstone Moderately Conservative that will complement its existing USAA Cornerstone Moderate USBSX and USAA Cornerstone Moderately Aggressive USCRX strategies. USAA Cornerstone Moderate and Cornerstone Moderately Aggressive both receive 3-star ratings. USAA Cornerstone Moderately Aggressive receives an Analyst Rating of Neutral and has $2 billion in assets.

The move could help the firm gain more market share in the defined contribution and retirement market space, which have warmly received target-date and target-risk products. USAA's Target Date series currently holds around $2 billion in assets, taking around 0.58% of the target-date industry market share.

Royce filed to launch Institutional shares of Royce Dividend Value RYDVX later this year. The fund started in 2004 and is ninth  in its category for the trailing 5-year period. The fund currently has $321 million in assets under management.

Morningstar fund analysts cover more than 1,700 mutual funds and write regular commentary covering fund industry news, fund investing trends, picks, portfolio planning, international investing, and more.

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