BankAmerica Corp.'s plan to invest in Marsico Capital Management looks like a savvy one.

The Denver mutual fund company, headed by Thomas F. Marsico, a former star manager with Janus Funds, is having no problem gathering assets. Marsico's Focus Fund, founded last Dec. 31, topped $1 billion of assets this week and has returned 40% this year.

BankAmerica is "getting good value for the money," Mr. Marsico said. The transaction is "a good deal for both sides."

In an interview this week, Mr. Marsico said BankAmerica is paying about $150 million for a 50% stake in Marsico.

Their deal, which was announced in November, is expected to close in the first quarter. It would not allow the bank to increase its stake, Mr. Marsico said.

Meanwhile a fund Marsico cloned for the former NationsBank Corp. under a subadvisory agreement continues to do well this year, Mr. Marsico said.

The portfolio, sold through the new BankAmerica's brokerage system, has more than $300 million of assets under management. Like the Focus Fund, it has returned about 40% for the year, he said.

Marsico also cloned a growth and income portfolio for NationsBank's NationsFunds group. However, Marsico Capital has no plans to create other products for Charlotte, N.C.-based BankAmerica at this time, Mr. Marsico said.

All told, Marsico Capital manages $3.4 billion of assets. It subadvises two funds for the insurer American Skandia and manages assets for universities, foundations, and individuals.

Mr. Marsico said the company will not seek distribution agreements with other banks.

Burton Greenwald, a mutual fund analyst in Philadelphia, said Marsico's success with the Focus Fund is "spectacular."

For an independent firm without "captive demand or a very strong distribution network," he said, "it's pretty remarkable."

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