American Express Financial Advisors of Minneapolis, Minn. is merging 15 of its no-load mutual funds into corresponding funds that carry up to five percent sales charges and a 25 basis-point 12b-1 fee, according to David Kanihan, a company spokesperson.

The 15 funds that make up the Strategist fund family closed to new investors in October. The funds were launched in 1996 to open a direct, no-load sales channel, Kanihan said.

Merging the funds is part of an overall strategy to dissolve the company's direct sales channel, known as Financial Direct, to focus more on the company's brokerage business, Kanihan said.

"The direct-only channel didn't really fly," he said. "The reason we changed the strategy was because with Financial Direct, people did not necessarily want to do business one way. They wanted a combination of options and Financial Direct never took off and neither did the funds."

Investors holding Strategist funds shares will always be allowed to purchase shares of the merged funds without a load, Kanihan said.

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