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Monday, August 09, 1999

Fund Scope

Reported by Hayley Green

Firstar Bank N.A.'s (NYSE: FRS), Capital Management group is introducing a new mutual fund today, the Firstar Stellar Science & Technology Fund.

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  • The fund is a non-diversified portfolio, which will seek to maximize growth, and capital appreciation by investing in equity securities of companies related to the science and technology industries.

    The funds will be distributed through Firstar retail branches, trust markets existing in about ten states and institutional trust business, including 401(k)s and pensions.

    "This fund will not be a core holding for most people but more of a part in a more diversified portfolio," said David Carson, senior trust officer and director of sales and risk management.

    Carson said the fund is going to hold of advertising until it has more of a track record but it will definitely be a consideration.

    "The science and technology sectors are growing at a faster rate than the broader market, and are largely responsible for the productivity gains that we are experiencing in the economy. Demographic trends in the U.S. and Europe point towards increasing demand for health care and related science for years to come," fund manager Don Keller said. "The Internet and e-commerce are growing and changing the way we live our lives in the U.S." The fund is available in two share classes -- B and Y. Class B shares have a back-end load if they are redeemed within six years of the initial purchase. Class Y shares are only available to Firstar's trust and institutional investors. The expense ratio on retail shares is 2.44%. "We are waving 15 basis points but it will be 2.29% at some point," Carson said.

    A fact sheet and prospectus will be posted to the company's web site along with initial holdings and the funds performance and progress information, Carson said.

    In other news, MacKay Shields Financial Corp. announced it will be managing a global fixed-income fund for Scottish Widows Fund Management of Edinburgh, to be launched later this month.

    "Partnering with an organization that has the record and reputation for leadership in investment management as does Scottish Widows presents a significant opportunity for us to build our non-U.S. business, and at the same time, it helps another organization provide its clients with the opportunity for gather investment diversity," Ravi Akhoury, chairman and chief executive officer of MacKay Shields said.

    Scottish Widows will provide all of the marketing, administration and ongoing servicing for the fund.

    In separate news, RhumbLine Advisers, a Boston investment management firm specializing in index and customized index strategies for institutional investors, announced plans to launch an Internet Fund to track the performance of select e-commerce companies.

    The company will index approximately 150 e-commerce, content providers and web infrastructure stocks. No one stock will account for more than 10% of the fund. The minimum initial investment is $25 million.

    The index will be marketed to the company's existing client base through consultants, said Wayne Owen, managing director at RhumbLine. Targets of the fund would include large institutional plans whose focus is on disciplined exposure.

    Owen said the fund will consist of pure Internet plays including Amazon, Priceline, E*Trade and DLJ Direct.

    "We will look at IPOs monthly and rearrange things," Owen said. A minimum of $100 million in market cap is required in order to be added to the index. 

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