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Friday, March 31, 2006

Fidelity Contrafund Closing To New Accounts

by: Armie Margaret Lee

Fidelity Investments is moving to curtail the flow of assets into its popular Contrafund and Advisor New Insights Fund. The Boston-based mutual fund giant said Friday it will shutter the funds, both managed by William Danoff, to new investors at the close of business on April 28.

Danoff, who has run the $63.8 billion Contrafund since 1990 and the $5.5 billion Advisor New Insights since its inception in 2003, "has done an outstanding job managing these funds, and investors have noticed in increasing numbers," said Philip Bullen, chief investment officer overseeing the US large-cap core and capital appreciation groups for Fidelity Management & Research Company, in a statement.

The two funds have jointly pulled in over $12 billion in net new cash in the 12 months ended February 28, 2006, Bullen said.

"We believe that closing Contrafund and Advisor New Insights at this time is in the best interests of the funds' shareholders, and stabilizing cash flows will help provide Will with the opportunity to maintain the funds' consistent performance track records," he added.

The decision drew immediate praise from Morningstar, which has long called for the closure of the funds. Danoff "has done an outstanding job at the funds, but he is currently running more than $70 billion," wrote Russel Kinnell, director of mutual fund research at the Chicago-based firm, on Morningstar's Web site. "That huge sum will make it challenging for him to match his past success."

In a related development, Fidelity said it has tapped Jason Weiner as associate porftolio manager of VIP Contrafund Portfolio. In this position, Weiner will work closely with Danoff in providing additional investment ideas for fund, according to the release.

Weiner will continue to manage the Fidelity Independence Fund, Fidelity Fifty and Fidelity Advisor Fifty Fund

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