NU Online News Service, March 16, 2004, 5:26 p.m. EST – MFS Investment Management, Boston, says it is going far beyond the required steps to strengthen its corporate governance.[@@]
MFS, a unit of Sun Life Financial Inc., Toronto, has been one of the companies caught up in U.S. regulators’ scrutiny of mutual fund governance issues, such as hedge funds’ use of mutual funds to engage in trades after the normal closing hours.
MFS has emphasized that regulators have not claimed that MFS employees knew about late trading or inappropriate personal trading in MFS funds. But MFS will be tightening business practices to show that shareholders’ interests come first at MFS, according to MFS Chairman Robert Pozen.
“We are committed to doing what is right for the millions of shareholders who trust us to invest on their behalf,” Pozen says in a statement.
The company is eliminating the use of brokerage commissions to acquire outside research and market data, eliminating the use of brokerage commissions to recognize fund sales, and offering shareholders individualized fund expense reporting.
To deter speculators from using MFS funds to “time the market,” MFS will expand the use of 2% redemption fees on exchanges and redemptions made within 30 days of fund purchases.
MFS now applies the fees to transactions involving its international/global and high-yield funds. MFS will be applying the 2% fees to transactions involving small-cap and mid-cap funds. MFS will impose redemption fees on all investors who redeem MFS stock fund and bond fund shares within 5 days of purchase.
MFS also is expanding its compliance monitoring operation and realigning its executive management team in an effort to improve corporate governance.
MFS has hired Jeffrey Carp, formerly a senior partner at Hale and Dorr L.L.P., Boston, to be its new general counsel, and it has created a non-executive chairman position and an executive vice president-regulatory affairs position.
Pozen, former president of Fidelity Management Research Company, Boston, is the new chairman.
Maria Dwyer, former president of Fidelity’s Fidelity Group of Funds, is the executive vice president-regulatory affairs.