A bigger, more versatile Franklin Resources Inc. has regained the ground it had lost over the past few years in selling mutual funds through banks. Now it is gunning for the one company ahead of it: Putnam Investments.

Behind the comeback is Franklin's acquisition of two powerhouse mutual fund companies that have beefed up its product menu. And the company hopes that the introduction of a popular pricing structure that lets investors buy shares without paying an up-front sales charge will push it to the top of the bank heap.

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