A group of independent directors has formed the Independent Directors Council to provide education and create a forum to discuss policy issues. The council, an offshoot of the Directors' Committee of the Investment Company Institute, will be housed in the ICI but has its own staff.

The council could potentially serve the 3,000 independent directors of ICI member companies. The Directors' Committee was formed in 1995 and has primarily concentrated on educational issues. Like that committee, the new group will continue to hold chapter meetings in Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco and hold annual conferences and workshops.

"The increased focus on fund directors has reinforced the importance of these educational efforts and signaled a broader need for the Council to assist independent directors in their governing responsibilities," said James Bodurtha, an independent director for Merrill Lynch Funds and chairman of the new council. Bodurtha added that he expects independent directors' role to rise. Marguerite Bateman, coordinator of the directors program at the ICI, has been named managing director of the council.

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