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Say Hola to Voya: ING U.S. Announces New Brand Identity

Plus, a new manager for Oppenheimer Global Allocation, another manager leaves the subadvisor for Laudus' U.S. large-cap growth fund, Oppenheimer Commodity Strategy Total Return undergoes a portfolio management change, and more. 

Morningstar Fund Analysts, 04/11/2013

ING U.S., which intends to spin off from its Dutch parent ING Groep N.V. ING via an IPO later in 2013, announced the brand name for its new entity. The firm will be called Voya Financial, which ING in a press release said is derived from the word "voyage" and "brings to mind bright, vivid colors." The branding identity will incorporate a new shade of ING's familiar orange.

ING U.S. filed an S-1 in November 2012 indicating its intent to go public. The spinning off of its U.S. subsidiary has been signaled by ING Group for several years, as part of its settlement terms with the Dutch government after the firm was bailed out during the financial crisis. ING will not begin the rebranding process until 2014 and expects the process to take up to 24 months. In the meantime, ING funds will continue to be marketed under the ING name.

New Manager for Oppenheimer Global Allocation
Oppenheimer Global Allocation QVGIX is getting a new manager. Mark Hamilton, who spent the past 18 years at AllianceBernstein, now comanages this fund alongside Benjamin Rockmuller, and also was named Oppenheimer's chief investment officer for global allocation.

Three of Oppenheimer Global Allocation's former managers are no longer involved with day-to-day management duties. Arthur Steinmetz, Krishna Memani, and George Evans, who've been involved with various fixed-income and equity offerings for years, had comanaged this fund since 2010. Hamilton's most recent portfolio-management experience was on world-allocation offering AllianceBernstein Dynamic Asset Allocation ADAAX. His experience overseeing investments in a broad range of asset classes seems to be a better fit for the Global Allocation fund compared with Steinmetz, Memani, and Evans who each specialize in either fixed income or equities. That said, Hamilton ran Dynamic Asset Allocation for less than two years. And prior to that, he spent just less than two years on the management team of the AllianceBernstein Retirement Strategy target-date series. Those track records are too short to be indicative of Hamilton's prospects on Global Allocation.

Laudus/UBS Loses Another Large-Cap Growth Team Member
Laudus Growth Investors US Large Cap Growth LGILX has suffered another loss to its investment team: Sam Console has left UBS, the fund's subadvisor. Console had been made a comanager of the fund, along with Peter Bye and Paul Graham, after the departure of longtime manager Lawrence Kemp in November 2012. (Kemp is now running BlackRock Capital Appreciation MDFGX.)

Kemp's record as sole manager was excellent, and his departure prompted a downgrade of the fund's Morningstar Analyst Rating to Neutral from Bronze. That said, there was reason for optimism: Console and Bye were promoted from the fund's analyst team, and Graham had provided oversight as head of growth investing strategies at UBS since 2003.

The fact that Bye and Graham remain on board is reassuring, but Console's departure is significant: He had been part of the analyst team since 2005. (Bye came on in 2010.) It is also adds to broader concerns about attrition at UBS.

More Changes at Oppenheimer Commodity Fund
A few weeks after announcing a strategy shift at Oppenheimer Commodity Strategy Total Return QRAAX, the firm announced a portfolio manager change on the fund effective April 8, 2013. George Zivic was named team leader and portfolio manager for the fund, and the current manager, Robert Baker, resigned from the firm. Performance issues since Baker assumed the lead role upon the unexpected departure of longtime manager Kevin Baum in April 2012 drove the firm to seek a replacement. Baker had comanaged the fund since 2007 and was an analyst there since 2001.

Prior to joining Oppenheimer, Zivic was a founding partner and portfolio manager of Almanac Capital Management, a boutique commodity-focused alternative investment firm. Oppenheimer declined to disclose the firm's assets under management, all of which has been returned to clients upon Zivic's departure. Prior to founding Almanac, Zivic served as head of commodity allocations at Credit Suisse, worked in the structured derivatives group at Rabobank International and was vice president of commodity trading at XL Capital. In all, Zivic has 14 years of experience in the commodities space, but he does not have a public track record managing a long-only commodity mutual fund. What's more, his two supporting analysts have been with Oppenheimer for less than a year. Time will tell if the new team can improve upon the fund's unimpressive track record, but for now, investors are likely better off gaining commodity exposure elsewhere.

On a positive note, Oppenheimer has slightly decreased the fund's expense ratio effective April 8, 2013, with the exception of the fund's I share class.

American Century CIO departs for Janus
As Fund Times reported Tuesday, American Century's chief investment officer Enrique Chang has resigned as of April 5. American Century didn't provide a specific time frame for replacing Chang but mentioned that he'll continue to advise the firm for several months and that the search for a replacement would begin immediately. American Century's CEO, Jonathan Thomas, also argued that Chang's departure would not be significantly disruptive to the firm's fund lineup, as the six sector-specific CIOs who reported to Chang remain in place.

Chang is heading to Janus, where he will assume the role of co-CIO for equities and asset allocation from Jonathan Coleman, who is stepping down to focus on running Janus Fund JANSX.

Chang was previously named on various American Century allocation funds, including the American Century Strategic Allocation series and American Century LiveStrong target-date fund series, though he wasn't involved in the funds' day-to-day management. Quantitative strategist Radu Gabudean, who joined American Century on March 19 after serving as vice president of quantitative strategies at Barclays Capital, joined the funds’ management rosters at the same time that Chang left them, though he replaces former portfolio manager Irina Torelli, who left the firm in 2012. The funds' three other comanagers remain in place.

Senior fund analysts Karin Anderson, Josh Charlson, and Laura Lallos and fund analysts Michelle Canavan, Robert Goldsborough, and Shannon Kirwin contributed to this report.

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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