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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

TCW Excommunicates Galileo

by: Armie Margaret Lee

TCW is dropping the Galileo name from its mutual funds as part of a strategy to boost sales and widen its distribution network. Alvin Albe, president and chief executive of the TCW Funds, told the MFWire that the change is aimed at sending a consistent brand message across the Los Angeles-based firmís distribution channels.

Albe added that the fund firm plans to launch "three or four" funds within the next six months, but declined to offer specifics.

The firmís mutual fund division, called TCM Galileo Funds Inc., will be known as TCM Funds Inc. beginning February 22. The change comes as the Los Angeles-based firm attempts to spark sales in its fund business.

TCW now advises 21 mutual funds with combined assets of $ 8.8 billion in 400,000 accounts. Thatís up sharply from $1.7 billion in fund assets it claimed in 1998. Still, funds represent a niche for the firm compared to its established institutional business. All combined, TCW Group manages $123 billion in assets.

Albe said company executives felt TCW could do without Galileo, which has been part of the brand since TCW first launched its proprietary mutual fund family in 1993.

"We didnít feel it added anything," he said.

Albe noted that a growing number of firms, Merrill Lynch being the most recent example, are shedding their own names on their mutual funds and replacing them with new monikers in an attempt to invigorate sales. "Weíre going in the opposite direction," he said.

The rebranding can be traced to the leadership change TCW Group underwent in September that saw Robert Day and William Sonneborn taking over as chief executive and president, respectively.

"One of the things that are important to Bob and Bill is to exploit the TCW brand across all our distribution channels," Albe added. 

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