Fidelity Investments is seeking to add five banks to a pilot distribution program for its mutual funds in Japan, a company executive said.

Since December the Boston company has had a pilot distribution program at branches of three Japanese institutions: Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan Ltd., Sumitomo Bank, and Sanwa Bank, said Roger T. Servison, a Fidelity managing director and executive vice president in charge of its push in Japan. This December Fidelity plans to expand the program, said Mr. Servison, because Japanese regulators are expected to loosen rules governing securities distribution by commercial banks.

"We're working to line up a number of the major Japanese banks who will distribute the funds through their network to their customers," he said. "We are the only foreign firm to set up pilot branches in banks."

Fidelity already sells investment trusts-the Japanese equivalent of mutual funds-through brokerage firms in Japan and has gathered about $700 million of assets through that channel, said Mr. Servison.

On April 1 Fidelity plans to launch five yen-denominated funds, and this is to coincide with the rollout of a direct marketing campaign aimed at Japanese retail investors, said Mr. Servison. Fidelity already has two funds available in Japan through the pilot bank branches, he said.

Fidelity's Japanese strategy also includes targeting large corporate pension plans in which the company now manages $1.7 billion worth of dollar-denominated assets for Japanese companies.

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