Mutual fund company Delaware Management Holdings Inc. has reached into its parent company for a corporate strategist to run its sales and marketing unit.

Bruce D. Barton, the new president of Philadelphia-based Delaware Distributors Inc., is to take charge of the fund company's multibillion- dollar expansion plans. He was previously a vice president for corporate planning at Lincoln National Corp., the Fort Wayne, Ind., insurer that owns Delaware Management.

Mr. Barton replaces Keith E. Mitchell, who resigned two weeks ago to pursue what he called more entrepreneurial opportunities. Mr. Mitchell had held the top sales job since 1990.

Delaware Management is in the midst of a five-year plan designed to beef up its sales force, upgrade technology, and redesign its marketing materials. Lincoln National, which acquired Delaware last year from Castle Harlan Inc., a New York buyout firm, has committed $100 million to the project.

The expansion is an attempt to reverse a sliding market share and double, to $20 billion, its assets under management by 2000. According to Mr. Barton, banks will play a large role in that effort.

"Lincoln National has a long history in the bank market, selling annuities through our subsidiary First Penn-Pacific Life Insurance Co.," Mr. Barton said, so it's only natural that Delaware would pursue that market.

Banks contribute 10% of total sales at Delaware Management, which primarily promotes its portfolios through large brokerages and financial planners. Mr. Barton wants banks' share to reach 15% to 20% of sales.

Delaware "can be more selective and develop an approach that's more partnership-oriented and more personal" than what's offered by the fund industry's giants, Mr. Barton said. The company works with Wachovia Corp., CoreStates Financial Corp., and Comerica Inc.

The 46-year-old Mr. Barton has come up through the ranks at Lincoln, where he worked for 25 years. His last job was to find acquisition possibilities for the company, including the Delaware purchase.

Mr. Barton's new assignment follows a shuffling of top management at Lincoln last month. Jeffrey J. Nick, formerly managing director of Lincoln National UK, was named chief executive officer of Lincoln National Investments and is moving the subsidiary's headquarters from Fort Wayne to Philadelphia, Delaware's home base.

"That's a signal they are focusing on Delaware as the foundation of their entire investment management expansion," said Burton J. Greenwald, a Philadelphia consultant for whom Delaware is a client.

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