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Rating:Putnam Plots Fee Cuts Not Rated 5.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Putnam Plots Fee Cuts

by: Armie Margaret Lee

Putnam Investments is slashing fees on its fixed income and asset allocation funds, and is following in the footsteps of fund firms such as Fidelity, it is planning to roll out a fund family breakpoint system.

The Boston-based fund firm plans to cut fees on 20 fixed income funds by an average of 13 percent, and by 10 percent on four asset allocation funds, said Jeff Carney, head of global marketing and product development. It will also jettison the overlay fee of 10 basis points on its RetirementReady line of lifecycle funds.

The fee cuts take effect August 1.

In addition, Putnam is looking to make changes that require shareholder approval.

It wants to put in place performance fees for its U.S. growth funds, international funds and the Putnam Global Equity Fund. Currently, the firm has performance fees attached to its Absolute Return Funds and Spectrum Funds.

The company also wants to install a fund family breakpoint system, under which asset-level discounts will be based more broadly on the growth of all Putnam fund assets, instead of the growth an individual fund's assets.

Other fund firms with a fund family breakpoint system include Fidelity, T. Rowe Price and Nuveen Investments, Carney said.

Company Press Release

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Putnam Investments and the Board of Trustees of the Putnam Funds today announced that the firm and the Funds will make sweeping changes to the management fees on Putnam’s retail mutual funds, designed to provide investors with a host of immediate and long-term pricing benefits, and to make Putnam’s product line-up more competitive in the marketplace. Certain changes will require the approval of shareholders at shareholder meetings to be held later this year.

“Every element of our re-pricing plan is crafted to benefit our shareholders,” said Putnam’s President and Chief Executive Officer Robert L. Reynolds, “in some cases immediately, in all cases over the long haul. We will be lowering management fees on many of our mutual funds on August 1. In addition, the new management contracts for which we are seeking shareholder approval would go a step further and reduce management fees on nearly all of our mutual funds, while giving investors a real stake in our future growth and, in the case of certain funds, tying the funds’ management fees to investment performance. We think the marketplace will welcome these changes as fresh evidence of our commitment to provide shareholders with strong, sustained investment results at competitively priced levels.”

The combination of management fee reductions as of August 1, 2009, and new management contracts, if approved by shareholders, will yield the following overall benefits to investors:

Fee reductions/elimination: Significant management fee reductions on fixed income and asset allocation funds, and elimination of management fees on target date (RetirementReady®) funds, will take place on August 1, 2009.
o Management fees will be reduced from current contractual levels for mutual funds in the following product categories (on average, as of June 30, 2009):
+ Putnam Fixed Income Funds — a 13% reduction; ranging as high as a 34% reduction
+ Putnam Asset Allocation Funds — a 10% reduction
+ Putnam RetirementReady® Funds — elimination of “wrap” management fees

* Performance fees: U.S. growth funds, international funds, and Putnam Global Equity Fund will have performance fees reflecting the strength or weakness of the investment performance of a given fund. Management fees for these equity funds will decline from their standard fee if the funds underperform their benchmarks and will rise if the funds outperform.

* Fund family breakpoints: The asset-level discounts for investors will be based more broadly on the growth of all Putnam mutual fund assets, rather than the inherently unpredictable growth of an individual Putnam mutual fund’s assets. Every dollar invested in a Putnam mutual fund essentially benefits all Putnam mutual fund shareholders under this model.

John A. Hill, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Putnam Funds, said, “The Board of Trustees has worked closely with Putnam in a cooperative effort over the past months on this new shareholder-friendly pricing plan and is pleased with the results. Besides fee reductions for many of the Putnam funds, the new plan offers highly competitive management fees, some of which are tied directly to fund performance, with asset-level discounts linked to the fund family’s overall growth, rather than to the growth of a single fund. We believe these collective actions will provide a range of significant benefits to our shareholders.”

Performance fees add value

Reynolds indicated that the firm is particularly enthused about the potential impact of performance fees. “There’s a pure and simple logic to performance fees: If a fund performs well, shareholders pay a higher management fee, which they will be very content to do if results are strong. Conversely, if a fund underperforms, the management fee charged to shareholders will be lower. The direct correlation between performance and fees charged provides a value-add equation for the shareholder,” he noted.

Currently, Putnam has performance fees attached to its new suite of Absolute Return Funds and Spectrum Funds. The firm is moving to apply the fees to its U.S. growth funds, international funds, and Putnam Global Equity Fund at this time.

Fund family breakpoints provide cost diversification

On the topic of fund family breakpoints, Reynolds pointed out that individual fund breakpoints are a throwback to an earlier era of single product offerings. “Today, a firm like Putnam, with a broad, diverse product line, typically shares investment management resources — like securities trading, technology, fund administration, accounting services, etc. — across its family of funds. It only makes sense that management fee breakpoints, or the points at which discounts are achieved for shareholders, be linked to the fund family’s overall assets.

“For shareholders, this fund family-wide approach would provide a form of cost diversification not available in a fund-specific breakpoint system by allowing them to benefit from the growth of the Putnam fund family as a whole, regardless of whether their specific funds happen to be growing or declining at a particular time. At its very essence, moving to a fund family breakpoint system allows each and every shareholder in our fund family to benefit from every dollar invested in a Putnam mutual fund,” Reynolds added.

Rebuilding Putnam Investments

Since joining Putnam on July 1, 2008, Reynolds has taken a number of steps to improve performance and revitalize Putnam’s business overall, including:

* A restructuring of Putnam’s equity investment division to increase individual fund manager accountability and responsibility and realign manager and analyst incentives to reward those who deliver top-quartile results for clients;
* Senior hiring in trading, portfolio management, and research, including David Glancy; Nick Thakore; Robert Ewing; and Walter Donovan, the firm’s chief investment officer;
* The launching of new products, including the industry’s first suite of target Absolute Return Funds*; the Spectrum Funds, which invest in the securities of undervalued, leveraged companies; and the Global Sector Funds, which target stocks in dynamic sectors across global markets;
* A recommitment to the retirement market, both by launching a new defined-contribution platform for plan sponsors and by proposing a sweeping retirement reform agenda based on strengthening 401(k)s to reliably deliver lifelong income to workers;
* Announcing a new print and online advertising campaign earlier this month, entitled, “This is Putnam today,” which showcases a series of large-cap equity managers and the strong performance they have been generating over the last year.

About Putnam Investments

Founded in 1937, Putnam Investments is a leading global money management firm with over 70 years of investment experience. As of June 30, 2009, Putnam had $102.8 billion in assets under management. Putnam has offices in Boston, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Singapore, and Sydney. For more information, go to putnam.com.

*Putnam’s target Absolute Return Funds are not intended to outperform stocks and bonds during strong market rallies.

The foregoing is not an offer to sell shares of any fund, nor is it a solicitation of any proxy. For more information relating to Putnam Investments, the funds, the Trustees of the Putnam Funds, and their shareholdings in the funds, or to receive a free copy of a proxy statement relating to certain of the matters discussed in this press release once the proxy statement has been filed with the SEC, please call 1-800-225-1581. Free copies of such materials can also be found on the SEC’s website (http://www.sec.gov). Please read the proxy statement when it becomes available because it contains important information.

Putnam mutual funds are distributed by Putnam Retail Management.

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