Wells Fargo & Co. snared a veteran of American Express to oversee its proprietary mutual fund complex.

Michael J. Hogan joined Wells last Monday after leaving his post at American Express Financial Advisors in early March. Mr. Hogan is a managing director in charge of Wells' $20.3 billion mutual fund business, reporting to executive vice president Michael Niedermeyer.

Wells' plan is to double its fund complex's assets in three years by expanding the ways it distributes the portfolios. The banking company will look for alliances with other institutions, including insurance companies, and get financial planners and registered investment advisers to recommend the Wells funds, Mr. Hogan and Mr. Niedermeyer said.

Previously, Mr. Niedermeyer had overseen mutual funds in concert with Elizabeth Evans, who retired this year. At that time, Mr. Niedermeyer was put in charge of Wells' institutional investment management business. He then began to look outside Wells for someone to oversee its three proprietary fund families-Stagecoach, Overland Express, and LifePath.

"We wanted someone who had broad experience with multiple channels of distribution for mutual funds. Our focus has been the bank channel," Mr. Niedermeyer said.

Mr. Hogan worked 12 years at American Express, most recently as a vice president at American Express Financial Advisors in Minneapolis. There, he marketed and distributed mutual funds and variable annuities. The 37-year- old Wharton graduate also worked at parent American Express Co. in New York for three years as director of strategic planning.

At Wells, Mr. Hogan said, he wants to help the bank "compete with all mutual fund companies out there and not just be a bank mutual fund company. We want to compete with the Putnams, Fidelity's, and T. Rowe Prices that are out there."

Former colleagues of Mr. Hogan said he was adept at handling big jobs. "He's got an excellent business background. He rose up through the ranks of American Express both here in Minneapolis and in New York," said Mark Alfuth, vice president of American Express Financial Advisors, who sells its services through other financial institutions.

"It's a loss to the company here and a win for Wells Fargo," he added.

Separately, Wells and its funds distributor, Stephens Inc., Little Rock, Ark., are facing a copyright infringement lawsuit regarding the LifePath funds. The plaintiff, John C. Boyle, claims both companies copied "my theme, concept, and medium of expression without my permission." He sued in February in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

"Our attorneys viewed it as meritless," Mr. Niedermeyer said of the lawsuit. The funds are subadvised by Barclays Global Advisors, which developed them years ago, he said.

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