Founders Asset Management, the Denver mutual fund company, is stepping up its focus on the institutional separate account business.

Founders, a unit of Mellon Bank Corp., Pittsburgh, hired John Mezger from local rival Janus Capital Corp. to help spearhead the effort.

Mr. Mezger, who joined the firm last month as a vice president and director, said he will market Founders' capabilities to college endowments, public foundations, and other institutions looking to invest money.

Though Founders caters to retail investors, "surprisingly, 60% of the assets are institutional," said Mr. Mezger. Most of that money is invested in mutual funds held in 401(k) programs or in annuity programs at insurance companies, where Founders acts in a subadvisory capacity, said Mr. Mezger.

Currently the company only has about $200 million in separate accounts, he said.

Mr. Mezger said that having the clout of Mellon and its Dreyfus Institutional Investors unit should help his cause. Founders manages about $7 billion of assets.

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