Banc One Corp. is slashing the list of mutual funds that it offers customers, sparing only four outside suppliers.

The Columbus, Ohio, banking company now sells mutual funds from about 20 companies, as well as its proprietary One Group of Funds.

Effective Jan. 1, it will limit the selection to its own funds, plus products from Alliance Capital Management, Fidelity Investments, and Kemper Financial Services, according to well-placed sources.

Massachusetts Financial Service's Meridian Funds an offshore fund family based in the Cayman Islands, also survived the ax. Unlike the company's MFS funds, these funds cannot be sold to residents of the United States.

Companies being eliminated include Oppenheimer Management Corp.; Capital Research and Management, purveyor of the American Funds; and Colonial Mutual Funds; and Putnam Investments.

For companies that didn't make the list, the loss could hurt, since Banc One customers buy about $100 million worth of mutual funds each month. The bank's chairman and chief executive, John B. McCoy, has said he expects sales to triple within three years.

But one company's loss is likely to be another's gain.

"We will be able to garner a larger portion of that $100 million in sales," said Terrence P. Cunningham, national sales manager for Kemper Financial Institutions Group.

Banc One's decision to whittle down the number of products it offers follows a growing industry trend. Other major banks, including First Chicago Corp., Keycorp, and Chemical Banking Corp., have recently slashed their short lists, too.

Bankers say that paring down product offerings saves both customers and salespeople from being overwhelmed by the choices. For banks that have proprietary products, it also helps their own funds stand out.

Now that banks are pruning their preferred product lists, mutual fund companies are fighting for shelf space.

Executives of some of those companies believe that even though they did not make the bank's short list, their funds will still be available through the Banc One's 600 personal investment centers. "Calvert continues to be on their 'other' list," said Steve Schueth, a vice president at the Calvert Group, a socially conscious fund company based in Bethesda, Md.

Banc One executives declined to comment on their decisions, saying that not all the companies involved had been informed.

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