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Touchstone and Countrywide Plan to Merge Fund Groups

Shareholders are being asked to approve the union of the $1.1 billion, 16 mutual fund group managed by Countrywide Investments of Cincinnati, Ohio with the eight-fund Touchstone Fund group currently managed by Touchstone Advisors, also of Cincinnati.

Touchstone's funds currently have $1.5 million under management. Touchstone also serves as the adviser to $374 million invested in variable annuities.

Fort Washington Investment Advisors of Cincinnati, a sister company to Touchstone, will serve as the sub-adviser to all but two of the Countrywide Funds. If approved, Touchstone will become the funds' adviser beginning May 1.

In October, Countrywide Investments was acquired by Fort Washington Investment Advisors. Fort Washington is a subsidiary of The Western-Southern Enterprise, a group of financial service companies owned by The Western and Southern Life Insurance Company based in Cincinnati. Touchstone is a wholly-owned subsidiary of IFS Financial Services, also a wholly-owned subsidiary of Western-Southern Life Assurance Company.