Plus, Legg Mason's new A shares, Neuberger Berman sale, and more.
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By Katie Rushkewicz Reichart, CFA | 12-11-08 | 03:39 PM | Email Article

Vanguard is planning to add a new small-cap international index fund to its lineup. The Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Small-Cap Index Fund will track the FTSE Global ex-US Small-Cap Index, which follows more than 3,300 stocks in 47 countries. Estimated expenses for the retail share class are 0.60% and will require a minimum investment of $3,000. ETF shares are also available at a cost of 0.38%. This will be Vanguard's first small-cap international index fund. It is expected to launch in early 2009.

Katie Rushkewicz Reichart, CFA, is a senior fund analyst on the active funds research team for Morningstar.

Legg Mason Adds A Shares
Investors will soon have a way to avoid the high fees of several of the Legg Mason Primary funds. The firm is planning to introduce cheaper A shares into its Primary Shares fund lineup in February 2009 (Legg Mason Partners funds already offer A shares). Exact expense ratios are not finalized, but the new share class should provide a cost break for funds like  Legg Mason International Equity  and  Legg Mason American Leading Companies . Hefty expenses (including a 1% 12b-1 fee) have been a steep hurdle for several of these funds to overcome, and lower price tags could give some of the struggling funds a boost. The Primary Shares will be renamed C shares.

Neuberger Berman Buys Itself
After months of speculation, the future of Neuberger Berman (the asset-management arm of Lehman Brothers) has finally been decided. A group of senior executives and portfolio managers will acquire a majority interest in the firm, with the deal expected to close in early 2009. The transition should not directly affect fund shareholders, as the fund family's lineup and investment approaches are not expected to change. Management's stake in the firm should give them incentive to stick around for the long haul.

The transaction comes on the heels of several failed deals, including one involving Bain Capital Partners, LLC and Hellman & Friedman, LLC.

More Manager Mayhem
PIMCO has said goodbye to municipal-bond fund manager Mark McCray. Several of his funds have tanked this year, notably  PIMCO Municipal Bond , which is down more than 23% for the year to date through Dec. 10. John Cummings will take over that fund as well as PIMCO New York Municipal  and PIMCO Short-Duration Municipal Income . Cummings has a mixed record at his other charges, including PIMCO California Intermediate Municipal , PIMCO California Short-Duration Municipal Income , and PIMCO High Yield Municipal .

DWS has also shaken up the management teams at several lackluster funds. Robert Janis is out as lead manager of  DWS Small Cap Growth , DWS Mid Cap Growth , and DWS Micro Cap . The three funds have performed near the bottom of their respective categories during Janis' four-and-a-half year tenure. Joseph Axtell, comanager of the three funds since late 2006, will be joined by Jeffrey Saeger, a 12-year veteran of the firm, and Rafaelina Lee, a former analyst.

Tara Kenney, Stephen Russell, and Rainer Vermehren have replaced Terrence Gray at the middling DWS Latin America Equity . Kenney previously comanaged the fund for a 10-year stretch ended in 2006.

Fidelity also announced a change. Jed Weiss has replaced Andrew Sassine at the struggling  Fidelity International Small Cap Opportunities . Sassine will continue to manage the closed  Fidelity Small Cap Stock . Weiss has been with Fidelity for more than 10 years and previously ran a slew of sector funds. He currently heads Fidelity International Growth  and Fidelity Total International Equity , two fledgling funds that were launched within the past year.

Kristen Bartholdson has been added as a comanager of Delaware Value  and  Delaware Large Cap Value , joining a team of five managers. She has been with the firm since 2006.

Ex-Fidelity Execs Jump to Putnam
Putnam recently hired two former Fidelity executives as it continues to revamp its management team. Clare Richer, a 25-year veteran of Fidelity, was named senior managing director and chief financial officer at Putnam. Andra Bolotin, most recently senior vice president and CFO of Fidelity's Developing Business Group, is Putnam's new managing director and controller.

Reopenings
 Dreyfus Emerging Markets (previously Dreyfus Premier Emerging Markets)  reopened Dec. 5 after being closed for several years. The fund, down nearly 50% for the year, experienced net outflows for 27 consecutive months. Although it has a decent long-term record, taxable investors should not buy this fund until after it makes a huge distribution in December, estimated at $3.40 per share (or 38% of its current net asset value).

 Templeton Foreign Smaller Companies  and  Templeton Global Smaller Companies  will become accessible to new investors Dec. 15. Although both funds have lost more than half of their value in 2008, management's consistent, value-oriented approach makes them appealing long-term holdings.

Wasatch Set to Close on Deal
Wasatch Advisors' acquisition of three funds from 1st Source Corporation Investment Advisers is expected to be completed Dec. 15. The funds' management teams, investment strategies, and ticker symbols will remain intact, but the names of the three offerings will be altered to incorporate the Wasatch brand. Large-value fund  1st Source Monogram Income Equity  will become Wasatch-1st Source Income Equity, 1st Source Monogram Long/Short   will transition to Wasatch-1st Source Long/Short, and bond fund 1st Source Monogram Income  will be renamed Wasatch-1st Source Income. Ralph Shive of Income Equity and Long/Short and Michael Shinnick of Long/Short will continue running those offerings but will become Wasatch employees. Paul Gifford of the Income fund will also stay on as manager but will remain part of 1st Source.

Bookkeeping
The names and mandates of four Franklin municipal-bond funds will be tweaked. Franklin Massachusetts Insured Tax-Free Income , Franklin Michigan Insured Tax-Free Income , Franklin Minnesota Insured Tax-Free Income , and Franklin Ohio Insured Tax-Free Income  will drop "insured" from their names and will no longer be required to invest at least 80% of their assets in insured securities. Weakened credit markets and potential future downgrades to municipal-bond insurers in those states prompted the changes, which for now will not affect Franklin New York Insured Tax-Free Income , Franklin California Insured Tax-Free Income , and Franklin Insured Tax-Free Income .

Finally, newbie Dreyfus Growth Opportunity was recently renamed Dreyfus Research Growth .

 

 

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Katie Rushkewicz Reichart, CFA does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar's editorial policies.
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