NationsBank Corp. plans to launch two equity funds with the help of Thomas Marsico, a star portfolio manager who made his name running two highly regarded Janus Capital funds.
The new funds will be modeled on the Janus 20 and the Janus Growth and Income Fund, which Mr. Marsico ran for 10 years through last August.
In October he set up his own shop, Marsico Capital Management, with help from Charlotte, N.C.-based NationsBank.
Mr. Marsico described the deal as a "strategic financial relationship" and said the bank has the option of taking an equity position at some stage. Neither he nor NationsBank officials would discuss the specific terms of the agreement.
For now the relationship means that the bank is getting access to Denver-based Marsico's inaugural funds, which opened New Year's Eve, Mr. Marsico said.
The new Nations/Marsico funds, which will be part of the NationsFunds family, are still in registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a bank spokeswoman said.
The Nations/Marsico Focus Fund and the Nations/Marsico Growth and Income Fund will mirror the Marsico Focus Fund and the Marsico Growth and Income Fund, Mr. Marsico said. The difference is that the Nations/Marsico funds will be sold through the bank's financial advisers and carry a load; the Marsico funds will be no-load.
The Focus Fund, based on the Janus 20 Fund, tracks 20 to 25 large- capital growth companies like G.E. Capital and Microsoft, Mr. Marsico said. "It was a $6 billion fund when I left and a $7 million fund when I took it over Jan. 31, 1988," he said.
The Marsico Growth and Income Fund tracks about 35 to 45 companies and includes some of the large core firms from the Focus Fund, Mr. Marsico said. However, it will also include companies with a market capitalization of $5 billion to $10 billion.
The Marsico Focus Fund and the Marsico Growth and Income Fund will be available through NationsBank's no-transaction-fee fund supermarket, Funds Solutions, as well as the OneSource fund mart of San Francisco-based Charles Schwab & Co. and several other fund marts, Mr. Marsico said.
He said the partnership also calls for his company to offer funds and private account services to NationsBank's private banking clients. "If they had an individual or corporation that wanted us to manage their money on an individual basis, we would do that," he said.
Geoffrey H. Bobroff, a mutual fund analyst based in East Greenwich, R.I., said NationsBank's teaming up with Marsico was not surprising.
"Nations has not been bashful about doing things that are out of character for banks," said Mr. Bobroff. For instance, he pointed out, the bank owns a 5.9% stake in Affiliated Managers Group, a Boston-based asset management company.
"If you can't own a Marsico, it may be worth having him in some capacity where you have a financial relationship," Mr. Bobroff said.