Mellon Expected to Hire Global Asset Exec

PITTSBURGH - Mellon Financial Corp. is expected to hire Jon Groom to head its overseas asset management business, according to a source.Mr. Groom resigned Monday from the New York fund company Alliance Capital Management, where he had co-headed the offshore business.

Francis D. Antin, chief operating officer of Mellon Global Investments, is expected to remain chief executive of Boston Company Asset Management, one of Mellon's domestic institutional investment management units, another source said.

Mellon, which manages $450 billion of assets, has been aggressively building its asset management business both domestically and internationally. Last year it acquired a majority stake in London-based Newton Management Ltd., and it has an alliance with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

The banking company declined to comment on Mr. Groom.

Separately, Alliance said it has named Kurt H. Schoknecht, who had been co-head of the unit with Mr. Groom, to run its offshore mutual fund business. ACM Offshore had more than $23 billion of offshore fund assets on Nov. 30, up from $16 billion at yearend 1998. Alliance Capital manages more than $317 billion of assets globally.

- Cheryl Winokur

Metris to Help Prodigy Issue Its First Card

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Prodigy Communications Corp. and Metris Cos. have signed a five-year contract to issue Prodigy's first credit card.The companies said the deal could be worth up to $58 million, assuming certain performance targets are met. Metris, a credit card issuer and direct marketer based in St. Louis Park, Minn., will offer its fee-based products to members of Prodigy, an Internet service provider based in White Plains, N.Y. The companies will begin promoting and distributing the card and Metris products in the second quarter.

Prodigy is expecting to have two million members by the end of the first quarter, when its proposed alliance with SBC Communications Inc. of San Antonio, Tex., is completed.

- Helen Stock

Merrill to Buy Stake in Web Research Firm

NEW YORK - Merrill Lynch & Co. has signed a multiyear agreement with, an Internet investment research network, to jointly develop information Web sites for Merrill Lynch's institutional clients.Merrill would take a minority equity stake in New York-based Merrill would also transfer proprietary research technologies to Terms were not disclosed.

The two companies said they would develop a platform for real-time delivery of Merrill Lynch's investment strategy and securities research. The companies also said they would develop technology to personalize and broadcast real-time research alerts and market information across multiple delivery platforms, such as pagers, cell phones, and the Internet.

- Ross Snel

Home Loan Applications Fell 4% in Week

WASHINGTON - Mortgage loan applications decreased 4.1% for the week that ended Dec. 17, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.Compared with the same week of 1998, applications were down 41.8%.

Refinancing activity also decreased to 22.2% of total applications, down from 23.4% the previous week. The volume of adjustable-rate mortgages increased to 30.7%, up from 27.3%.

Mortgage rates for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 8.06%, up from 7.78% a week earlier.

Freddie Mac said Wednesday that in a survey covering the first three days of the week beginning Dec. 20, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 7.96%, up from 7.86%. A year earlier, the average rate for a 30-year mortgage was 6.77%, Freddie said.

- Joshua Brockman

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