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Acquisition Prompts Acorn to Add Loads

Acorn Investment Trust, a series of five no-load funds were to become load funds Sept. 29, at the same time the sale of the funds' advisor, Wanger Asset Management of Chicago, to Liberty Financial of Boston was to close, said Marilyn Morrison, a spokesperson for Wanger Asset Management.

The loads are being added to broaden distribution, she said.

"The no-load world is shrinking, and to compete in this market you have to offer your funds across a broad range of distribution channels," she said. However, the no-load share class will still be available to current shareholders of the Acorn funds, and any Acorn shareholder will be allowed to purchase additional no-load shares of any Acorn fund, according to Morrison.

Liberty Financial announced earlier this summer that it would acquire Acorn for $450 million. The move will expand Wanger's distribution channels and resolve the question of who would succeed the firm's founder, 66-year-old Ralph Wanger, Morrison said.

Each fund will include A, B and C shares and will be sold through financial advisors, brokers, banks, insurance companies and 401(k) plans, Morrison said. In addition, the funds' names will be changed to include the Liberty name in front of each of the five Acorn funds, according to an SEC filing Sept. 21. The name changes will be effective Oct. 16, Morrison said.