Mutual fund company Oppenheimer Management Corp. is adding some firepower to the portfolios it offers bank clients.
Two pending acquisitions would add three bond funds and six stock funds to the 45 portfolios at the New York-based fund company.
Oppenheimer, which manages $37.3 billion in assets, announced last week that it had signed a deal to buy the Rochester Funds, a tiny mutual fund company in Rochester, N.Y. The deal, expected to be completed in January, would give Oppenheimer two New York State bond funds and a convertible bond fund.
In August the firm announced plans to acquire portfolios from New York rival Quest for Value. The Quest deal, which will close next month, will give Oppenheimer six new stock funds.
In addition, Oppenheimer plans to merge the assets of six Quest for Value bond funds into some of its own portfolios.
Oppenheimer's effort to broaden its array of funds comes as mutual fund firms fight to compete for the limited shelf space at banks, many of which only want to work with fund firms that have a large number of portfolio options for their customers.
Dime Savings Bank of New York, for instance, sells only the portfolios of four companies, so it tries to get the most out of them.
"Keeping the number of fund families small dictates that you select a firm with a broad menu of portfolios," said J. Edward Diamond, president of Dime Securities Inc.
Maryann Bruce, senior vice president and director of Oppenheimer's financial institutions division, said she has already begun hawking the new funds to banks.
Perhaps the most unusual one is a convertible bond fund currently managed by Rochester called the Bond Fund for Growth.
Funds like this invest in the bonds of corporations that can be converted into stocks. They also invest in preferred stocks that can be turned into common stocks.
The objective is to boost income for the investor while at the same time generating a higher total return than an ordinary bond fund.
Ms. Bruce called the convertible bond fund "a training-wheel fund" that bank brokers can use to teach customers about investing in the stock markets.
"There is a market out there for it with the conservative investor, and that's a good fit with banks," she said.
Geoffrey Bobroff, a consultant in East Greenwich, R.I., said the fund could prove the most difficult bond fund to sell through banks. "Convertible bond funds are not widely held because they are not fully understood by most investors," he said.
The stock funds that Oppenheimer plans to purchase from Quest for Value will offer a new style of investment management to Oppenheimer, she said.
Those funds will continue to be managed by Quest for Value under subadvisory arrangements.
Oppenheimer's domestic stock funds tend to have a growth strategy of investing, meaning they invest in companies whose earnings growth is expected to outpace that of peers.
The portfolios of Quest for Value managers take a different tack. They invest in companies with stock prices that are low relative to earnings potential.
Quest for Value Funds is the mutual fund subsidiary of Oppenheimer Capital, an investment management firm that is unrelated to Ms. Bruce's company.