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Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Pioneer Chief Denies Sale Rumors

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Put away that checkbook, Pioneer Investment Management is not for sale. So says Dan Geraci, CEO of the fund firm according to a reported carried this morning by Dow Jones Newswires. "There's zero truth in that," Geraci is reported to have said in response to questions raised in a Barron's article last month. Dow Jones publishes Barron's and the wire service.

Geraci added that he believes investment bankers started the rumors hungry for merger fees in an otherwise quiet market. He is correct that some M&A advisors are speculating that European firms that picked up American fund firms may be seeking to divest those properties. Yesterday, for example, Donald Putnam, CEO of Putnam Lovell NBF Securities told a gathering of fund executives that he thinks those moves are coming. Putnam did not mention Pioneer, although he did speculate on the fate of Allianz's Nicholas-Applegate unit.

Unicredito Italiano, an Italian bank, purchased Pioneer Investments in May of 2000.

Not only is Pioneer not for sale, it may be a buyer. Geraci laid out growth plans at the Boston-based firm and said that it has its "eyes and ears open" for other asset managers that may be on the block. "We are more inclined to be a selective buyer of capacity and ability than not," he told the news service

Geraci also revealed plans at Pioneer to broaden its product line. The firm plans to roll out a family of annuity products in May. For those products Pioneer has partnered with Travelers Life & Annuity. Pioneer had abandoned the annuity market after a partnership with Allmerica Financial foundered last year.

It is also working on new hedge funds to offer affluent investors. Those products will be offered through its Momentum unit. Pioneer purchased the Bermuda-based hedge fund shop in the fourth quarter of 2002.

Geraci also said he expects 75,000 advisors to be selling Pioneer products by the end of 2004, up from 50,000 today and 33,000 18 months ago. 

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