Fidelity Investments is re-aligning the firm’s distribution, operations and administrative functions to meet the needs of its increasingly diverse customer base, the company says.

As a result, Ellyn A. McColgan has been named president of distribution and operations for products and services directly sold to individual investors and through third-party intermediaries; she will continue to oversee the Fidelity Brokerage Company, while also supervising institutional services, life insurance and enterprise operations

Abigail P. Johnson remains president of Fidelity Employer Services Company and will share distribution leadership with McColgan, while Vice Chairman and COO Robert L. Reynolds has announced plans to retire. John J. Remondi has been tapped as interim chief administrative officer, reporting to Edward Johnson.

In other Fidelity news, John M. Harris has been named portfolio manager of the Fidelity Select Consumer Discretionary Portfolio, Fidelity Advisor Consumer Discretionary Fund and VIP Consumer Discretionary Portfolio, succeeding Martin Zinny. Harris joined Fidelity in 2006; earlier, he worked for Morgan Stanley, UBS Warburg, and Schroder & Company. Evan Hornbuckle, who has been with Fidelity since 2005 and worked previously for Putnam Investments, has been named portfolio manager of Fidelity Select Retailing Portfolio, also succeeding Zinny.

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T. Rowe Price Group has reported that its assets under management are roughly $350 billion as of March 31. Investor inflows into mutual funds were $8.4 billion in the latest quarter; total assets in this segment ended the period at nearly $220 billion.

The company, which split its common shares (TROW) two-for-one in June 2006, notes that its growth stock fund added $2.3 billion of net investments during the quarter. Its retirement funds had net inflows of $2.8 billion — the largest quarterly amount since this fund series was launched in September 2002. Total assets in the retirement funds exceed $20 billion.

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Schwartz Investment Counsel of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., the investment adviser to the Ave Maria Mutual Funds, has completed the previously announced merger of the Catholic Equity Fund into the Ave Maria Rising Dividend Fund (AVEDX).

“This will be a great opportunity for the former Catholic Equity Fund shareholders to build diversified portfolios across different asset classes within our no-load family of morally responsible funds,” says George P. Schwartz, CFA, president of the Ave Maria Mutual Funds.

With the completion of this merger, total net assets in the Ave Maria Mutual Funds now exceed $500 million. The Catholic mutual-fund group began operations in 2001; total assets are more than $520 million.

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Charles Schwab Investment Management, the asset management affiliate of Charles Schwab, has introduced its first proprietary real estate securities fund: the Schwab Global Real Estate Fund, which specializes in commercial properties worldwide. This comes just two months after Schwab Funds rolled out three fundamental index mutual funds based on the FTSE RAFI Index Series.

The new real-estate fund should begin trading May 31 with two share classes: the investor share class (SWAIX) with an expense ratio of 1.20 percent; and the select shares (SWASX) with an expense ratio of 1.05 percent and minimum investment of $50,000.

“The opportunity to invest in the global real estate market is growing as more countries adopt a U.S. REIT-like structure,” said James Sempere, CSIM’s managing director of real estate investments and research. “This fund is designed to give investors access to the best part of that expanding market.”

The Schwab fund will include securities of domestic and international commercial real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other similar REIT-like structures, as well as real estate operating companies (REOCs). Investments are based on the proprietary global database and research model developed by Global Real Analytics, acquired by CSIM in January. The fund will not invest directly in individual real estate properties.

“Besides providing an efficient way for investors to gain exposure to the growing market in domestic and international real estate securities, REITs are structured to deliver ongoing income streams, which should appeal to those looking to create income in their portfolios,” adds Evelyn Dilsaver, president and CEO of CSIM.

Jeffrey Mortimer, CFA, senior vice president and chief investment officer of equities for CSIM, is responsible for the overall management of the fund. Portfolio managers Dionisio Meneses Jr., and David Siopack have day-to-day responsibility for the fund management. CSIM currently manages 69 mutual funds, including 35 actively managed funds, and five separate account model portfolios.

Compiled by Janet Levaux, managing editor of Research; reach her at jlevaux@researchmag.com