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Fidelity Heir Apparent Gets New Duties

Abigail Johnson, the daughter of Fidelity Investments' chairman and CEO Edward C. Johnson 3d, is playing a larger role in helping oversee some of Fidelity's funds.

Abigail Johnson will serve as a member of Fidelity funds' advisory board, a two-person committee which assists the directors who govern Fidelity funds of Boston. Fund directors asked Johnson to join the advisory board because of her experience, said Jessica Johnson, a Fidelity spokesperson.

The advisory board has no voting power. The appointment was not a sign that Abigail Johnson will be named as a member of the funds' board of directors, said Jessica Johnson, who is unrelated to the Fidelity executives. Abigail Johnson previously managed several Fidelity funds. She currently serves in a senior administrative role overseeing Fidelity's growth and capital appreciation funds.

The funds' board of directors appointed Abigail Johnson in February, Jessica Johnson said. Fidelity disclosed the new duties for Abigail Johnson in SEC filings dated June 18. Abigail Johnson was not available for comment. The position on the advisory board has been vacant since 1997. Abigail Johnson's grandfather, Edward C. Johnson 2nd, joined the Fidelity Fund, the forerunner of Fidelity Investments, in 1943. Today, the Johnson family owns 49 percent of the voting stock of Fidelity. Employees own the balance.

Outsiders have speculated that Abigail, 37, will succeed her father, who is 68. Geoffrey Bobroff, a mutual fund consultant in East Greenwich, R.I., said Robert Pozen, Fidelity's president, has been viewed as an interim appointment in that role while Abigail Johnson gains experience in the company.

Abigail Johnson will determine her own future at the company, said Eric Kobren, executive editor of Fidelity Insight, a newsletter which tracks Fidelity funds based in Wellesley, Mass.

"The age old question is, Is Abby going to take over the company?'" Kobren said. "She owns the company. That will be her decision to make."

Fidelity has not selected a successor to Edward C. Johnson 3d, Jessica Johnson said. Abigail Johnson's current duties include serving as one of three associate directors of Fidelity's equities division. In that role, she aids and monitors the performance of portfolio managers running Fidelity's growth and capital appreciation funds. J. Gary Burkhead, president of Fidelity's retail business, serves on the mutual fund advisory board with Abigail Johnson. Because of securities laws prohibitions, Abigail Johnson cannot serve as a member of the advisory board for the growth and capital appreciation funds which she supervises. Abigail Johnson's advisory board role will be limited to 37 of the 54 trusts included in the Fidelity fund complex, Jessica Johnson said.