Investec Asset Management is bowing out of the U.S. mutual fund business, handing off the family to Guinness Atkinson Asset Management. The company is named after Tim Guinness, original founder, who had remained with Investec after his company was acquired, and Jim Atkinson, president of the funds at the time of the original acquisition.

In the meantime, Atkinson went on to head, an Internet site that educates consumers about mutual funds. Atkinson ended up leaving MAXFunds and forming a consulting firm, Orbis Marketing.

Since originally acquiring the fund family, Investec consolidated a number of the funds, and Guinness Atkinson will assume management of the remaining four funds, which have $125 million in assets under management. According to Atkinson, Guinness proposed the idea in October of last year. Financial details of the arrangement have not been disclosed.

The $6 million Mainland China Fund will be merged into the China & Hong Kong Fund. Edmund Harriss, who comes from Investec, will remain as manager of the China & Hong Kong Fund.

‘Improved Vision’

Also, Guinness Atkinson will be changing the investment objective of the Wired Index Fund, which currently tracks Wired Magazine’s index of 40 stocks, selected by a committee of magazine editors. The fund will be recast as the Guinness Atkinson Global Innovations Fund and will be run as an actively managed fund that "has the same vision as the Wired Index," but improved, Atkinson said. Because the committee met only once a year, it "doesn’t necessarily meet on a timetable that would please a portfolio manager."

Guinness Atkinson will be resurrecting the Guinness name, subjecting investors to yet another round of proxies to approve the name change, fund merger and change in investment objective. At this point, the paper trail may have worn some investors thin, Atkinson said.

"If you look at it from the investor’s perspective, this is not the best investment environment and there’s been a series of changes. I’m worried that some of these investors will say, enough is enough," he said. To assuage the frustrated departure of investors, "our number one priority is to communicate our vision and that we do care about our shareholders."

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