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Fund Times

Fund Times: Royce and Hotchkis Funds to Close

Plus, Dreyfus responds to market-timing story, Putnam clears the decks, more.

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Two more funds are closing on Friday.  Royce Micro-Cap (RYOTX) will close to new investors at the end of trading on March 31, 2006. The fund's assets had grown to $775 million.

In addition, Hotchkis and Wiley Core Value (HWCAX) is closing to new investments. The $1.3-billion large-value fund had been the sole fund open to new investors left at the firm, so this could be your last chance to get into a Hotchkis fund for a while. Large-value fund closings have been much less common than those at small-value funds.

Dreyfus Responds to Timing Allegations
In response to a Wall Street Journal story stating that three Merrill Lynch brokers were allowed to market-time their funds, Dreyfus posted a statement on its Web site that said the firm had barred additional investment in the accounts in August 2002 and later closed the accounts due to excessive trading.

"The CBS accounts were monitored for indications of excessive trading activity," the statement said. "As a result of excessive trading in two funds beginning in August 2002, Dreyfus did not accept any subsequent purchase orders in these funds. The accounts were ultimately closed for a failure to adhere to the Funds' guidelines with respect to excessive trading. Dreyfus took that action to protect its fund shareholders well before regulatory scrutiny of market timing activity commenced the following year."

Farnham to Manage Met West High Yield
Jamie Farnham has replaced Mark Unferth at the helm of  Metropolitan West High Yield Bond (MWHYX). Unferth remains at Met West, where he will continue to manage other funds. As director of credit research, Farnham was a logical choice to take over the role.

Management Shakeup at Putnam
Putnam Investments made a slew of manager changes at the firm, including some departures. "We have made additional portfolio management changes that enhance the blend of fundamental and quantitative techniques in some portfolios and better leverage our investment professionals' sector expertise," said Kevin Cronin, head of investments.

Putnam named Joshua L. Byrne, co-chief investment officer for international core equity, to the lead manager slot on  Putnam Europe Equity (PEUGX). Byrne replaces Heather Arnold and Mark Pollard, who are leaving the firm. Byrne, who has over 17 years of investment experience, will lead a team of 10 analysts.

At  Putnam Equity Income (PEYAX), Jeanne Mockard will leave the team to focus on  George Putnam Fund of Boston (PGEOX). Austin M. Kairnes III will replace Mockard at Equity Income. Before joining Putnam, Kairnes worked for Independence Investments, where he served as a principal of the firm and a quantitative equity analyst/portfolio manager. Geoffrey G. Kelley will join Mockard on George Putnam Fund and leave the teams that run  Putnam High Yield (PHIGX), Putnam High Yield Advantage (PHYIX), and closed-end fund Putnam Managed High Yield (PTM).

Michael J. Abata and Kevin Cronin will also move off George Putnam Fund to concentrate on other duties.

Meanwhile, Saba S. Malak will be taken off the teams at  Putnam Growth Opportunities (POGAX) and  Putnam Voyager  (PVOYX).

Franz G. Valencia was named a portfolio manager on  Putnam International Capital Opportunities  (PNVAX). Valencia replaces Christopher L. Crawford, who is leaving the firm. Valencia was already a research associate for the small-cap core team.

Russel Kinnel does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.