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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Touchstone's New Chief Scouts for Acquisitions

by: InvestmentWires Staff, 

Touchstone Investments is on the lookout for acquisitions, said Steven Graziano, president of the Cincinnati-based fund firm, in an interview with The MFWire on the sidelines of a press briefing hosted by Touchstone in Manhattan Tuesday morning.

Touchstone Investments president Steven Graziano addresses reporters at a press briefing in Manhattan Tuesday morning.

The press briefing, held at the Jumeirah Essex House across from Central Park, marked the formal launch of 10 Touchstone funds, which hit the market October 1. A total of 30 reporters attended the briefing, Touchstone's first ever New York media event. Public relations firm SunStar helped Touchstone organize the press conference.

"I'm particularly interested in distressed assets," Graziano said, pointing to banks that are looking to offload their mutual fund businesses.

Graziano, who joined Touchstone in August after 14 years at Pioneer Investments, said he is seeking a fund family "that matches up nicely with what we have so we can merge the funds together."

"I don't need more funds, I need more assets," he said.

Graziano, a former head of distribution at Pioneer Investments, said he is taking a "narrow and deep" approach to distribution.

Touchstone has 16 wholesalers and 10 focus firms, including Wells Fargo Advisors, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LPL and Janney Montgomery Scott.

Other executives in attendance at the press briefing include chief compliance officer Brian Hirsch, vice president of marketing Sharon Karp, vice president of institutional business development Steve Owen and Graziano's boss, Jill McGruder, senior vice president at Touchstone's parent, Western & Southern Financial Group.

"The new funds are unencumbered by 2008 performance," Graziano said, adding: "Stock prices are depressed, spelling opportunity for money managers. It's the perfect time to launch."

Sub-advisors for the 10 new funds spoke about the markets and the economy. Speakers included Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller & Washington; Ted Bradford, managing partner for Bradford & Marzec; Patricia Perez-Coutts, portfolio manager for AGF Investments America; Ian McCullam, portfolio manager of Bedlam Asset Management; Augustus Asset Managers Limited portfolio manager Tim Haywood; EARNEST Partners CEO Paul Viera; Gina Moore, portfolio manager for Aronson+Johnson+Ortiz; portfolio manger Peter Zuger of Lee Munder Capital Group; and The London Compay managing director Stephen Goddard.  

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