Perpetual Investments is re-opening its successful $575 million smaller companies fund to investors, after striking an exclusive distribution arrangement with MLC’s MasterKey platform.

Perpetual’s wholesale smaller companies fund was closed to new and additional investors in 2002, but retail investors could still access the group’s capabilities exclusively through the WealthFocus platform, launched by Perpetual in September 2003. Under Perpetual’s new arrangement with MLC, a second smaller companies fund has been set up, but will only be available via MasterKey to restrict capacity, Damien Crowley, Perpetual’s general manager of adviser distribution, said. According to Crowley, the new fund has opened to meet existing redemptions without triggering capital gains losses. “We’re able to do this because it’s in the best interests of existing shareholders and because it will help us manage performance as well as capacity,” he said. This week Perpetual also added five new funds to WealthFocus including the group’s new Diversified Income Fund and four external products. Since 2004, the group’s credit team has attracted over $2 billion in institutional mandates, but is just rolling out a retail version of the product. Challenger’s Howard Mortgage Trust, Ausbil Dexia’s Active Australian Shares Fund, Perennial’s Australian Shares Fund and Merrill Lynch Investment Management’s Monthly Income Fund have all been added to the platform. Last month, Mark Papendieck, Perpetual’s former head of platform, left the group to join Skandia. Crowley said Papendieck’s replacement would be announced later this week.

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