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Rating:Odd Lots, February 22, 2000 Not Rated 3.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Tuesday, February 22, 2000

Odd Lots, February 22, 2000

Reported by Paul Braverman

Pioneer in stormy waters
From The Boston Globe
Boston's Pioneer Group may be headed for a shake-up led by Lens Investment Management, a high-profile activist investor group and a significant investor in Pioneer. In an attempt to protect itself, Pioneer has hired investment bankers to review its strategic options, including a sale. Bob Monks, the head of Lens, called the move "superficial and disappointing." "We plan to to press the company to take more aggressive steps to increase shareholder value," he said. "We're exploring stronger actions." Lens is expected to lay out its recommendations for Pioneer later this week. Pioneer's modest size ($24.5 billion) is thought to make it an excellent buyout candidate, and 1999 was not a banner year for the company. Its value-investing style didn't score big returns, and the company's ambitions to build a portfolio of international businesses hasn't succeeded, resulting in the closure of a Ghanaian gold mine and a Russian bank, and the sale of a Polish brokerage.

Is it that time again?
From Investment News
In years past, the Clinton administration has not made friends in the financial industry at tax time. This year, it's striking a more conciliatory note. There is hope that the Republican Congress and the administration can compromise on pension reform by wedding the Retirement Savings Accounts proposal with increases in contribution limits to 401(k)s. Congress passed increased limits last year, but they were vetoed by the president. But the financial industry will still find plenty to dislike about the president's budget, which includes cuts in corporate tax shelters and taxes on financial products, the life insurance industry, and additional estate and gift taxes.

Stuart's in trouble
From Morningstar
The SEC is increasing its scrutiny of mutual fund advertising. The agency will will check to see if claims made by fund families are consistent with strategies set forth in shareholder reports and actual portfolios, according to SEC chairman Arthur Levitt. The proliferation of ads touting hot funds, and the abundance of ads in which companies slice performance data to reflect favorably on their funds prompted the SEC to launch the review. "In far too many instances, these advertisements are offering quick returns or instant wealth--but in reality, have performances that are not sustainable," Levitt said.

Fidelity fracas
From Morningstar
Fido is at it again. In the latest in a series of managerial moves at Fidelity, Nicholas Tiller has become manager of the Select Energy Service fund. Tiller replaces Matthew Grech, who is leaving Fidelity. Jeffrey Feingold is moving to Select Transportation, replacing Christopher Zepf, who will continue managing Select Defense & Aerospace. Pratima Abichandani will run Select Medical Delivery, replacing Shep Perkins. These changes follow some high-profile resignations at Fidelity, including Aggressive Growth manager Erin Sullivan, who left to start a hedge fund, and the retirement of George Vanderheiden.  

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