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Rating:A Decade-Long Client Parts Ways with Putnam Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, May 14, 2010

A Decade-Long Client Parts Ways with Putnam

Reported by Armie Margaret Lee

The Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, which administers the state's 529 Savings Plan, said Thursday that it has tapped BlackRock to be the exclusive program manager for its 529 advisor plan. Ohio currently offers two advisor plans managed by BlackRock and Putnam Investments.

Putnam has served as program manager for the Ohio advisor plan since October 2000. The Putnam CollegeAdvantage Plan has assets of $3.5 billion at the end of March. Those assets will move to BlackRock on or about October 1, 2010.

Putnam executives came out with their own press release on Thursday, saying they will start to "actively seek opportunities to serve the broader college savings market nationwide."
Ohio Tuition Trust Authority Press Release

Columbus, OH – May 13, 2010: The Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, the state agency administering Ohio’s CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan, today announced that the Ohio 529 advisor plan will be managed exclusively by BlackRock, Inc. as of this fall. Ohio’s CollegeAdvantage Program offers two advisor plans managed by Putnam Investments and BlackRock, respectively. The Tuition Trust Board voted to retain BlackRock as the exclusive program manager to enhance program value and quality while providing diverse investment choices from leading fund managers.

"BlackRock was selected as the exclusive program manager for their world-class product offerings, well-respected reputation, industry-leading services and their commitment to helping Ohio grow its 529 plan to ensure more families can afford college," said Mike Prescott, Executive Director of the Tuition Trust. "BlackRock plans to further enhance the Ohio plan by offering competitive fees and a diverse menu of investment options, including the industry leading iShares® exchange traded funds, age-based and target risk portfolios, and the BlackRock Global Allocation Fund, one of the best-selling mutual funds in the industry."

BlackRock, a premier provider of global investment management, risk management and advisory services to institutional and retail clients around the world, was selected by the Tuition Trust in June 2009 to offer an additional advisor plan for Ohio. BlackRock is the world’s largest investment management firm with over $3.4 trillion in assets under management.

"We are excited to take this important next step in our partnership with the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority," said Frank Porcelli, Managing Director and head of BlackRock's US Retail Business. "As a firm, BlackRock is committed to providing a brighter financial future for our clients, and we understand that saving for a college education is one of the most important goals for investors in Ohio and across the country. We take our responsibility in helping investors achieve that goal seriously and look forward to a long and successful relationship with the Tuition Trust."

"Additionally," noted Porcelli, "investors currently in the CollegeAdvantage advisor plans can rest assured that BlackRock has a team of professionals in place to ensure a smooth transfer of assets between the two program managers. There is no need for them to take any action at this time as BlackRock will be reaching out with clear and frequent communications throughout the transition process."

Putnam Investments has been the program manager for the Ohio advisor plan since October 2000. As of March 31, 2010, total assets in the Putnam CollegeAdvantage plan are at $3.5 billion on behalf of 375,000 beneficiaries. The existing assets currently in the Putnam CollegeAdvantage advisor plan will transition to management by BlackRock on or about October 1, 2010.

"Putnam has been an important partner to Ohio for nearly 10 years and they have contributed significantly to the success of Ohio's plan. We wish Putnam continued success as they move forward with new directions and initiatives” said Prescott.

If Putnam CollegeAdvantage account owners have any immediate questions to address they can reach out to their financial advisor or contact the BlackRock 529 Service Center at (866) 529-8582.

The Tuition Trust also manages the CollegeAdvantage direct plan which allows families to invest on their own without the assistance of a financial professional. The direct plan offers a wide variety of investment options managed by The Vanguard Group, Fifth Third Bank, PIMCO, OppenheimerFunds, and GE Asset Management. The changes to the advisor plan do not impact the direct plan.

Ohio's 529 plan is open to both investors in Ohio and across the country, offering exemption from federal and state of Ohio income tax on withdrawals from the plan used for qualified higher education expenses. In addition, the CollegeAdvantage program offers additional state income tax benefits to Ohioans investing in either the advisor or direct plan as they can deduct up to $2,000 from Ohio taxable income annually for each child. Moreover, funds in the CollegeAdvantage plans can be used at any of Ohio's two or four-year colleges or universities as well as at any college in the country.

Families interested in the advisor plan should contact a financial advisor. Families can learn more about Ohio's 529 plans at www.collegeadvantage529.com.

About BlackRock
BlackRock is a leader in investment management, risk management and advisory services for institutional and retail clients worldwide. At March 31, 2010, BlackRock's AUM was $3.364 trillion. BlackRock offers products that span the risk spectrum to meet clients' needs, including active, enhanced and index strategies across markets and asset classes. Products are offered in a variety of structures including separate accounts, mutual funds, iShares(R) (exchange traded funds), and other pooled investment vehicles. BlackRock also offers risk management, advisory and enterprise investment system services to a broad base of institutional investors through BlackRock Solutions(R). Headquartered in New York City, as of March 31, 2010, the firm has approximately 8,500 employees in 24 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East and Africa. For additional information about the BlackRock CollegeAdvantage 529 Plan, please call (866) 529-8582 or visit www.blackrock.com/collegeadvantage.

About Ohio Tuition Trust Authority
Ohio Tuition Trust Authority is a state agency within the Office of the Chancellor of the Board of Regents and was created by the Ohio General Assembly in 1989 to help Ohio families prepare financially for higher education. The Tuition Trust offers the CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan to provide families with a tax-advantaged way to save for college. The CollegeAdvantage program currently has $6 billion in total assets on behalf of 776,000 beneficiaries as of March 31, 2010. Go to www.collegeadvantage529.com for more information.

Putnam Press Release

BOSTON, May 13, 2010 — Putnam Investments today announced that it will begin to actively seek opportunities to serve the broader college savings market nationwide through offering its advisor-sold investment product lineup, program administration experience, sales infrastructure and industry-recognized customer service standards. Previously Putnam had addressed the 529 college savings needs through financial advisors in an exclusive relationship with the state of Ohio since 2000.

Putnam will be transitioning away from its exclusive work in 529 college savings for the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority (Tuition Trust), managing the Putnam CollegeAdvantage Plan, based on Tuition Trust’s intention to narrow the number of advisor-sold 529 plan options offered. Beginning in October, Putnam will make its bolstered investment organization and 529 experience set available for a host of potential marketplace assignments in the future.

“We appreciate the experience of working in partnership with the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority and financial advisors to help families save for higher education over the last decade, but we see enormous opportunity to bring the full weight and breadth of Putnam’s strengthened investment capabilities, innovative product solutions, and heralded service and distribution teams to bear for the broader college savings marketplace,” commented Robert L. Reynolds, president and chief executive officer, Putnam Investments.

"Putnam's commitment to helping working Americans and others save for their own retirement and for college education for their children and grandchildren is unwavering,” Reynolds continued. “While the challenge for families to gather resources for the important task of funding higher education has never been greater, we believe that our firm has a uniquely strong solution set to offer the college savings marketplace and we plan to develop and improve on it for years to come."

The Putnam announcement comes at a time when Reynolds’ rebuilding efforts, leading to a dramatic turnaround in Putnam’s investment performance, have been broadly acknowledged. Recently, Institutional Investor named Putnam Investments “Mutual Fund Manager of the Year,” and Reynolds, “Fund Leader of the Year.” In February, Putnam earned the #1 ranking in the 2010 Lipper/Barron’s Best Mutual-Fund Families Survey based on dramatic gains by individual funds and advancements across the entire fund complex in 2009.

Putnam Under Reynolds

Since joining Putnam on July 1, 2008, Reynolds has moved aggressively to improve fund performance and strengthen Putnam’s investment unit. He restructured Putnam’s equity investment division to increase individual fund manager accountability and responsibility, and he realigned manager and analyst incentives to reward those who deliver top-quartile results for investors.

Putnam has also recruited a number of distinguished industry veterans in portfolio management, research, and trading during the past 18 months, including Chief Investment Officer Walter Donovan and Portfolio Managers Robert Ewing, David Glancy, and Nick Thakore. The company has also sought to build a first-class, high-talent research team to drive its fundamental investment approach.

Besides turning around the performance of existing funds, Putnam renewed its claim to leadership in mutual fund innovation, having launched 15 new funds since early 2009. The products introduced or enhanced during this period include:

· Putnam Absolute Return Funds,* which are designed to pursue positive, targeted returns above inflation over three years or more, and with less volatility than more traditional funds. The absolute return strategies were also combined among the underlying investments in the Putnam RetirementReady® Funds, Putnam's unique suite of 10 target-date lifecycle retirement funds, the only suite of lifecycle funds in the industry to integrate these strategies;
· The Putnam Spectrum Funds, which invest in the securities of leveraged companies, looking to generate returns through investments across their entire capital structure;
· The actively managed Putnam Global Sector Funds, which target stocks in dynamic sectors across global markets, cover nine sectors across the entire MSCI World Index, and can be combined to create a highly customized portfolio.

About Putnam Investments
Founded in 1937, Putnam Investments is a leading global money management firm with over 70 years of investment experience. As of April 2010, Putnam had nearly $120 billion in assets under management. Putnam has offices in Boston, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Singapore, and Sydney. For more information, go to putnam.com.

Putnam mutual funds are distributed by Putnam Retail Management.

* Putnam's target Absolute Return Funds are not intended to outperform stocks and bonds during strong market rallies.

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