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"I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an antiaircraft carrier, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes" -- Jane Fonda, interviewed in O, The Oprah MagazineEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Offshore Buyers Are Diving In

Foreign companies have snapped up four U.S. mutual fund or money management companies this year in billion-dollar-plus deals, and industry sources say the buying spree isn't over yet.

Up for grabs next? It could be the John Nuveen, Eaton Vance, Neuberger Berman, or the mutual fund arm of John Hancock Financial Services. Offshore buyers attracted to the rich U.S. market find it cheaper to buy existing funds than start from scratch, even at a rich 5% of assets--what UniCredito Italiano agreed to in its June, $1.2 billion buy of Pioneer Group.

But smart overseas buyers should temper their enthusiasm with a realistic understanding of a fund family's weaknesses, say investment pros. Eaton Vance, for instance, is strong in tax-managed and prime-rate funds--but not much else. Other funds have strong distribution but weak performance. Foreign buyers "think they'll be selling enormous amounts of mutual funds, but they're missing the boat," says Steven Eisman, an analyst for CIBC World Markets. A sale to a rich foreign company won't cure strategic shortcomings.By Mara Der Hovanesian; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

TABLE

Shopping Spree

FOREIGN BUYER U.S. COMPANY

Alliance Capital (France) Sanford C. Bernstein

CDC Asset (France) Nvest

Old Mutual (S. Africa) United Asset

UniCredito Italiano Pioneer Group

DATA: Business Week

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Is Xerox Prime Prey?

After several costly missteps in the past year, Xerox showed CEO Rick Thoman the door this spring and ushered in his predecessor once again, Paul Allaire, to fix the mess. But further problems since Allaire's second coming have some investment pros wondering if Xerox' days as an independent company are numbered.

After Allaire warned of an earnings shortfall for the second quarter on June 16, Xerox shares plunged 20%, to about 21. He told unhappy analysts that Xerox would intensify its focus on financial controls. In his words, there will be "no more surprises."

It will clearly be no surprise if Xerox, with its tattered credibility and its low share price, ends up in play. "The price at this level certainly makes the company attractive as a takeover candidate," says Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich.

On the short list of potential buyers are Hewlett- Packard and IBM, which Gartner Group, a big tech consultant, has said would be a good fit. The consensus is that Xerox' short-term outlook is grim. Says one consultant and Xerox alum: "I hate to be melodramatic, but unless there's a knight in shining armor, I think the patient is too sick to recover."By Pamela L. Moore; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top


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