Warren Isabelle's explanation for his brief tenure as chief investment officer of equities at First Union Corp.'s newest money management unit is simple: "They were as new to it as I was."

The Charlotte, N.C., banking company closed its purchase of Boston-based Keystone Investments just two months before it wooed Mr. Isabelle away from Pioneer Investments.

"They tried to help me figure out what I was in for, but we all got in there at the same time and were learning about the company at same time," he said in a telephone interview from his new job at Prospect Street Investment Management.

The Keystone job would have required more administrative work that he wanted to do, he said.

He joined Boston-based Prospect Street this month to start its first equity fund. The closed-end Prospect Street Intrepid Fund, which awaits approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission, is expected to open to investors in August.

Mr. Isabelle said moving to Prospect Street opened opportunities that appealed to his entrepreneurial nature. The mission at First Union and Pioneer was "to grow to be a large asset management company with the emphasis on distribution," he said, but his own interest is on the product side.

At Prospect Street "we can control growth and the product," he said, "and do what we do best-which is manage money."

Prospect Street manages $161.1 million of assets in mutual funds, all of it in a closed-end high-yield bond fund, the Prospect Street High Income Portfolio. The firm also manages an unspecified sum in two private high- yield bond funds.

Mr. Isabelle received an equity stake in Prospect Street when he joined, an opportunity that he said wasn't available at Keystone.

He bears no ill will toward First Union or Keystone, he said.

"I think we left as friends, and if the opportunity arose at their request I'd be happy to work with them in the future."

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