for its mutual funds. The B shares, which are available for 33 of the company's funds, let investors avoid up-front sales commissions. Instead, a fee will be charged when the shares are redeemed. But investors will be able to reduce commissions by keeping their shares for several years, and avoid them altogether by waiting at least six years to redeem the shares. Franklin, of San Mateo, Calif., is a latecomer to the B-share format. B shares have increasingly replaced A shares, under which investors pay an up-front sales fee. In addition to A shares and the B shares, Franklin offers C shares, which enable investors to spread commissions over several years. It currently refers to the A and B shares as class I and class II shares. But as of Jan. 1 it began calling them A and B, conforming with the industry norm. Franklin is the nation's fifth-largest mutual fund manager as measured by long-term open-ended funds, with $158.4 billion at the end of October.
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