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 CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- First Union Corporation (NYSE: FTU FTUpr) has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Lieber & Company, the New York-based investment management and research organization. Evergreen Asset Management, an affiliate of Lieber & Company, acts as adviser to the Evergreen Funds, a $3.3 billion portfolio of mutual funds. They also manage pension, profit sharing, foundation, institutional and individual accounts.
 Upon closing, this transaction will be accounted for as a pooling of interests, and will nearly double the assets of the mutual funds advised by First Union, to $6.9 billion from $3.6 billion, and will increase to 28 the number of different funds offered.
 "The Evergreen funds are a natural fit for our advisory business and our customers," said John R. Georgius, President of First Union Corporation. "We will gain a highly respected, proven adviser to funds that complement the First Union Funds. With their broader product line, we will be able to leverage the distribution power of our 1,300 branch network.
 "We also gain a number of the most highly respected and successful individuals in the business. Lieber & Company advises several of the best-performing funds in the mutual fund marketplace. Not only is this a well-timed purchase, but even more important, it's an essential step in enhancing our future revenue stream," Georgius said.
 "This transaction is an extremely good opportunity for the firm and for the shareholders of the Evergreen Funds," said Stephen A. Lieber, founding partner of Lieber & Co.
 "Our array of products has an excellent performance record, and should be enhanced by adding First Union's broad-based financial capabilities and resources. The combination also provides the benefits of First Union's extensive distribution network."
 First Union's purchase price is approximately 3.1 million shares of First Union common stock. Completion of the acquisition is expected in the first quarter of 1994, subject to regulatory approval and to various other conditions of closing.
 First Union is licensing at least two employees in each banking branch -- 2,600 people by year-end 1994 -- to sell mutual funds. The initial class of nearly 200 licensed and registered employees is expected to be ready by November, with a total of 600 employees ready by the end of this year.
 "Eleven of the 15 Evergreen mutual funds complement and enhance the portfolios offered by the First Union Funds, so we're pleased to expand the array of high-quality products available to our customers as additional choices in helping them meet their investment objectives," Georgius said.
 The Evergreen funds include seven equity, two balanced, four fixed income, and two money market funds. The existing First Union family of mutual funds includes one equity, one balanced, eight fixed income and three money market funds.
 The combination would rank as the nation's sixth largest bank proprietary mutual fund family, with eight equity, three balanced, 12 fixed income, including state-specific municipal bond funds in California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, and five money market funds. Both mutual fund families will retain their former names, Evergreen and First Union, respectively, and their management teams.
 "Our goal is to satisfy our customers' needs for financial services," said Richard K. Wagoner, head of First Union's Capital Management Group, the trust, investment management and brokerage arm of the bank, and investment adviser to the First Union Funds.
 Since First Union introduced its first proprietary mutual fund in 1985, the company has seen strong growth in customer demand for investment products. Beginning with $3 million in assets and one fund at year-end 1985, the First Union mutual funds have grown to $3.6 billion and 13 in number.
 Evergreen Fund Highlights:
 -- Stephen Lieber, the founding partner of Lieber & Company, has successfully invested clients' money for 43 years.
 -- The oldest fund, the Evergreen Fund, is a small capitalization stock fund that began in 1971.
 -- Evergreen's Total Return Fund is the largest fund with $1.2 billion in assets.
 -- Evergreen's Tax-Exempt Money Market Fund was rated the number 1 tax-exempt money fund for the period since its inception in 1988, through its latest fiscal year end, August 31, 1993.
 -- The Evergreen Foundation Fund outperformed all other funds in the balanced fund category for the period since inception (1/2/90) through September 30, 1993.
 -- The Evergreen Global Real Estate Equity Fund was rated first among all real estate funds for the 12 months and year to date ending September 30, 1993.
 For additional information about these funds, please call the funds for a prospectus at 1-800-235-0064.
 At September 30, 1993, First Union Corporation reported assets of $71.4 billion and operated 1,373 banking offices in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland and Washington, D.C., and 218 nonbanking offices in 36 states.
 -0- 10/18/93
 /CONTACT: (Media) NC-FL Jeep Bryant, 800-669-5855, or SC-GA: Donna Stockton, 704-374-6999, or VA-MD-TN-DC: David Scanzoni, 704-383-7742; (Analyst) Barbara Massa, 704-374-2555 or Sean Fox, 704-374-7060, all of First Union Corporation/

CO: First Union Corporation ST: North Carolina IN: FIN SU:

MM -- CH003 -- 3272 10/18/93 10:14 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 18, 1993

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