Another Putnam Investments executive has jumped to Liberty Financial Cos.

Colonial Group, one of Liberty's mutual fund units, last week named Joseph R. Palombo, 46, as chief administrative officer. He is responsible for all the Boston-based company's administrative functions, including the transfer agency, fund accounting, and computer systems.

Mr. Palombo spent six years at hometown rival Putnam, most recently as chief operating officer and chief compliance officer of the retail fund business.

Mr. Palombo's responsibilities closely match those of Davey Scoon, Colonial's former chief operating officer. Mr. Scoon resigned last week after 14 years with the company, a spokesman said.

Mr. Scoon could not be reached to comment, and the spokesman declined to explain his departure.

Through its Liberty Funds Distributor unit, Colonial provides distribution, transfer agent, and other services for several asset management companies that operate under the banner of Liberty Financial. Those companies - which include Stein Roe & Farnham Inc., Newport Fund Management, and Crabbe Huson Group, as well as Colonial - account for more than $20 billion of mutual fund assets under management.

Liberty does not provide back-office services for outside money managers such as bank proprietary funds. Including other businesses, such as Keyport Life Insurance Co., Liberty has $61 billion in assets under management for more than 1.7 million investors.

Several other Putnam senior executives have moved over to Liberty in recent years.

Among them was Stephen E. Gibson, who signed on in 1996 as the president and chief executive of Colonial.

Louis Tasiopoulos jumped to Liberty in 1997 as senior managing director of distribution and the head of its bank sales operation. At the same time James Tambone joined as a senior managing director of distribution, with a focus on nonbank brokerages and financial advisers. Liberty is in the middle tier of mutual fund companies that distribute through banks. It sold $830 million that way last year, mostly through its Colonial arm, which is known for its bond fund and conservative equity funds.

The defections of the Putnam executives to Liberty led to a court fight between the companies that simmered for two years until it was recently settled between the parties. Neither side would give details.

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