First Maryland Bancorp has signed on SEI Corp. to distribute and administer its proprietary Ark family of mutual funds.

The Baltimore-based banking company, which manages $1.87 billion of mutual fund assets in nine portfolios, announced the contract on Dec. 13.

First Maryland already uses SEI's trust systems - a factor that played into the decision to choose SEI, according to Michele Dalton, vice president and product manager for the Ark Funds.

SEI replaces Fidelity Distributors, which had administered and distributed the funds since their introduction in June 1993.

Ms. Dalton said the banking company is working with SEI to launch several new mutual fund portfolios.

First Maryland recently asked federal regulators for permission to start a short-term Treasury fund and a blue-chip stock fund, which the banking company plans to offer sometime in the first quarter.

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