Alliance Capital, pursuing its plan to become one of the top distributors of mutual funds through banks, has hired four more dedicated wholesalers.

And the fund company has made it onto the preferred provider list of the newly merged Bank of America, according to Kevin Rowell, Alliance's bank sales chief.

The four new wholesalers are to start in the new year, joining the eight that Alliance now uses to do business with the 90 banks that sell its funds.

The wholesalers are Adam Englehart, an internal wholesaler at Alliance, who will now work the Middle Atlantic region from Baltimore; Peter O'Brien, a former wholesaler in Bank of America's proprietary fund family, who will work out of Phoenix and cover the Southwest; Chuck Barrett, a broker-dealer wholesaler at Alliance who will cover New England from his base in Boston; and a wholesaler whom Mr. Rowell would not identify. The latter person is to cover the Pacific Northwest.

Mr. Rowell projected that the fund company will sell $970 million of mutual funds through banks this year, and he said he is aiming for $1.5 billion in 1999 and $2 billion in 2000. Adding four wholesalers by mid-1999 also is planned.

Mr. Rowell said he wants Alliance to be among the top three bank distributors by 2000.

The company's commitment to its bank sales force helped persuade the retail brokerage at Centura Banks Inc. of Rocky Mount, N.C., to add the fund company to its preferred provider list in November.

"They had sort of a revolving door of wholesalers," said Ed Hipp, president of the brokerage. "They appear to have stabilized their wholesaler effort."

Under Mr. Rowell's plan to become a top bank distributor, his New York- based fund company must duke it out with the likes of Putnam Investments of Boston, the bank channel king with $10 billion of sales last year; Franklin Templeton Group of San Mateo, Calif., which sold $4 billion; and OppenheimerFunds and Aim Management Group, which each sold $2.5 billion.

Since August, when Mr. Rowell became Alliance's first dedicated bank channel chief in several years, the company has signed sales agreements with nine more banking companies, including Wells Fargo & Co., Centura, and BofA, he said.

"The breadth of our product is getting us on short lists," said Mr. Rowell, a former executive at Putnam.

Alliance's best-selling fund through banks is its Premier Growth large capitalization stock fund, which the company touts as the seventh-fastest- selling fund in the country. It has $3 billion of assets under management.

Its municipal bond funds and its Growth and Income Fund are also good sellers, he said.

Banks account for 7% of Alliance's overall fund sales. Its biggest distribution channel is nonbank brokerages.

The company manages $275 billion of assets, of which 33% is in mutual funds.

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