Blackrock Calls Off Merger of Some Funds

The board of Blackrock Inc. has withdrawn a proposal to merge certain municipal funds into other portfolios.Blackrock, a unit of Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank Corp., had sought to fold the Blackrock Municipal Target Trust, the Blackrock California Municipal 2008 Term Trust, the Blackrock New York Insured Municipal 2008 Term Trust, and the Blackrock Florida Insured Municipal 2008 Term Trust into other portfolios.

However, higher interest rates and stock price pressure on the market for municipal closed-end funds have reduced the potential benefits, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The boards of the affected trusts, including all the independent directors, agreed with Blackrock's recommendation to withdraw the merger proposals and concluded that the benefits to shareholders were no longer as compelling, Blackrock said in its SEC filing.

- Karen Talley

Amvescap Is Planning To Offer C Share Class

The no-load mutual fund arm of Amvescap PLC said it would offer a broker-sold share class for 27 of its funds by February.The board of the Denver-based fund company recently voted to create C shares for some of its stock, bond, international, hybrid, money market, and sector offerings. Investors in C shares typically do not pay up-front commissions but are charged higher expense ratios, a price many are willing to pay for advice.

Invesco offers 33 no-load funds and has about $30 billion of assets under management.

- Cheryl Winokur

Northern Trust Corp. Adding Growth Fund

Northern Trust Corp. of Chicago is expanding its institutional fund offerings with a small-company growth portfolio.The fund, which will be available Dec. 1, will invest in small companies demonstrating above-average sales, earnings growth, and return on equity.

The fund will seek companies with a market capitalization of $330 million to $3.4 billion for a portfolio of no more than 65 stocks.

Northern Trust, with $258 billion of assets under management, offers 19 other portfolios in its institutional fund offerings.

Franklin Resources Shuffles Management

Franklin Resources Inc. of San Mateo, Calif., said Tuesday that it has reorganized senior management. The newly formed chairman's office consists of Charles B. Johnson, chief executive and chairman, who previously was president; Rupert H. Johnson Jr., vice chairman, who previously oversaw investment management for Franklin Funds; and Harmon Burns, also vice chairman, who oversaw operations, legal, and human resources.The new president's office consists of Martin L. Flanagan, chief financial officer, who was also named chief operating officer, a newly created position at the company; Allen J. Gula Jr., chief information officer; Charles E. Johnson, president of Templeton Worldwide Inc., who now oversees investment management for all of the company's mutual funds; and Gregory E. Johnson, president of Franklin Templeton Distributors Inc.

Dean P. Eberling, a managing director with the investment banking firm Putnam, Lovell, de Guardiola & Thornton Inc., said the reorganization is an attempt to get the company back on track. In January, he noted, Franklin took a $58 million charge and said it was laying off about 550 employees.

- Cheryl Winokur

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