Eaton Vance Corp. of Boston plans to launch a family of investment funds aimed at retail investors in Europe.

The four funds, which will come in a total of 12 share classes, are to be introduced in the early fall. They would be Eaton Vance's first foray into the region.

"It's becoming more of a global business," said Steve Marks, Eaton Vance's managing director for international sales. "We do see growth opportunities in Europe."

The company, which has $27 billion of assets under management, plans to register the funds in Germany, Italy, and Spain. They are to be domiciled in Dublin.

Bisys of Little Falls, N.J., is to be the transfer agent and shareholder servicer for the funds, servicing them from its offices in Dublin.

Eaton Vance decided to focus on the retail market for several reasons, Mr. Marks said. Most of the company's experience in the United States has been with selling to the retail rather than the institutional market.

In addition, distribution of retail funds is cheaper than distribution of institutional funds. That is because the retail funds can be distributed through European partners, whereas Eaton Vance would have to create its own sales force to pitch its products to institutional investors.

"We don't really have the resources to put on a huge institutional sales force," Mr. Marks said.

Also, many institutional investors in Europe mandate that most of their holdings must be in securities of the country in which they are based. That gives European investment companies a strong advantage over competitors, Mr. Marks said.

The company decided to jump into Europe in part because of the continent's new common currency. The euro makes it easier to manage funds and market them across national borders, Mr. Marks said.

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