BOSTON - Mellon Financial Corp. is partnering with Optima Fund Management of New York to offer hedge fund products to Mellon's private banking clients.

Mellon, of Pittsburgh, began selling nine of Optima's hedge fund products this month, including multi- and single-manager products, said Vernon Winters, the chief investment officer of Mellon Private Asset Management.

Optima, which manages $1.2 billion of assets in over 20 hedge funds, has agreed not to sell its products through any other U.S. financial services firm. D. Dixon Boardman, a managing director of Optima, said that Optima has distributed its funds directly in the past and does not have similar arrangements with any other companies.

Mr. Winters said that Mellon introduced the products in order to offer more alternatives and diversification for very high-net-worth clients. He said that Mellon may add other Optima hedge funds or ask Optima to develop hedge fund products especially for Mellon.

Mellon joins a growing list of banking companies that offer hedge funds to their high-net-worth clients, including Chase Manhattan Corp., National City Corp. of Cleveland, and SunTrust Banks Inc. of Atlanta.

Mellon Private Asset Management, which serves clients with at least $1 million to invest, has about $96 billion of assets under management and administration.

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