NU Online News Service, March 1, 4:01 p.m. – John Hancock Funds, Boston, is introducing the John Hancock High Income Fund, a mutual fund that seeks high current income by investing in U.S. and foreign bonds from companies with low or mediocre credit ratings.

Although companies with low ratings are more likely than companies with high ratings to default on their bonds, they also pay substantially higher interest rates.

The new Hancock fund’s prospectus lets managers put up to 80% of the fund’s assets in bonds with ratings that are below investment grade, and up to 30% of the assets in bonds rated CC/Ca or lower, Hancock says.

Fred Cavanaugh, the manager of Hancock’s John Hancock Strategic Income Fund, will be the lead portfolio manager.

The new fund offers Class A shares with a maximum front-end sales charge of 4.5%, Class B shares with a maximum deferred sales charge of 5%, and Class C shares with a maximum front-end sales charge of 1% and a maximum deferred sales charge of 1%.

The minimum initial investment is $1,000 for regular accounts or $250 for retirement accounts.

John Hancock Funds is a unit of John Hancock Financial Services Inc.