Sale of MNC unit takes another stepThe...


Sale of MNC unit takes another step

The dismantling of MNC Financial Inc.'s empire proceeds apace.

Yesterday, NationsBank Corp. announced it signed a letter of intent to proceed with the previously announced sale of MNC's stock transfer unit to Chemical Banking Corp. of New York. The unit handles stockholder relations duties for corporate clients, including issuing and registering stock certificates, paying dividends and keeping records. It employs about 60 people in Baltimore.

The companies didn't disclose the purchase price or the fate of the unit's employees. "We're not commenting at this point on whether any of them will become employees of Chemical," said spokesman Ken Herz.

The unit, part of MNC's Security Trust division, serves about 125 companies.

Chemical bought NationsBank's stockholder services operation last year, when it was the ninth-biggest in the country. As part of that deal, NationsBank agreed to a noncompete clause that led to the sale of the Security Trust unit.

Chemical's stockholder services operation, the largest in the nation, serves more than 750 companies and their 6.5 million shareholders. Chemical also handled the transfer services for NationsBank's acquisition of MNC last month.

Ninth-grader a leader in stock selections

Pssst: Want a good stock tip? Try Atari Corp., the video and computer game maker.

That's from David Kulansky, 13, a freshman at Centennial High School in Columbia. Before you dismiss young David, note that the recent rise in Atari shares helped boost his portfolio to more than $556,000, from $500,000 three weeks ago.

OK, so it's all make-believe money. But David's stock-picking prowess has ranked him among the Top 10 of the nearly 5,800 high school students participating in the 6th annual AT&T; Investment Challenge for each of the first three weeks of the contest. The contest, for college students as well, runs through Dec. 10.

David says his portfolio will be worth $610,000 when updated standings are published Monday in USA Today. That should rank him No. 2 in the nation, with an annualized return of 286 percent.

David said the idea to invest in Atari came from an article in Game Pro magazine about Atari's Jaguar system -- to be launched Nov. 15. The Jaguar is supposed to rival similar systems from Sega Genesis and Nintendo.

"I like all electronic stocks in general," the ninth-grader explained yesterday between math club and band practice.

The only stock he owns for real is Potomac Electric Power Co., because his grandparents bought some for him when he was born. If he wins the $1,000 grand prize, he plans to invest half of it in some real stocks: Atari, for instance. But only on weakness.

'Right' neighborhoods to get new magazine

Beginning in January, suburban Baltimore residents who make the grade will begin receiving a new monthly personal finance magazine called Nest Egg.

Nest Egg is a publication of the financial publishing and consulting firm Investment Dealers' Digest, which prints a variety of magazines and newsletters.

Nest Egg initially will be delivered to about 1 million households in the suburbs surrounding Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, says IDD Vice President and Nest Egg Publisher Rick Norris.

Eventually, IDD will circulate Nest Egg to 4 million people nationwide, Mr. Norris said.

The 32-page magazine, printed on newsprint in four-color tabloid format, offers articles and features on tax and estate planning, real estate, collectibles and other investments. IDD is paying weekly suburban newspapers to carry it. But only residents of the "right" neighborhoods will be targeted.

These residents fall into the top four socioeconomic categories provided by Nest Egg's' demographic consultant: "blue-blood estates," "money and brains," "furs and station wagons" and "pools and patios."

Want to know if any of those describes you? Keep an eye out for Nest Egg.

Investment managers hint at fee flexibility

Listen up, pension fund trustees: You don't have to pay a lot for a new manager.

Most investment managers are willing to negotiate, according to a survey by the William M. Mercer Inc. consultancy. Its 1993 Investment Management Fee Survey found that three-quarters of the 436 investment managers it surveyed would cut fees under various circumstances.

The most common reason: the size of the prospective account. Seventy-four percent of those surveyed would consider lowering fees for large accounts, with $50 million being the threshold most frequently mentioned.

About 40 percent of the respondents would consider lowering fees for public-sector plans, and about a third might do it for charitable, foundation or endowment plan sponsors.

Mercer found the median annual fee was 54 basis points, or 0.54 percent of assets, for a $50 million active equity account; 51 basis points for a balanced account; and 32 basis points for a fixed-income account.

The best news: Even if your pension plan doesn't fall into any of the above categories, at least prices won't be rising soon. Nine of 10 investment managers said they hadn't increased fees since last year, and 96 percent said they had no such plans for next year.

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