Janus Capital Group Inc. has moved to expand its Asian distribution by signing an agreement to offer its funds through 30 Taiwan banks. The move comes as its assets under management fell again in the first quarter.

The Denver mutual fund company announced last Thursday that it will offer 10 Janus funds through 30 of Taiwan's 40 banks. Janus began selling its funds in Taiwan 18 months ago through an exclusive arrangement with Citigroup and has accumulated $500 million of assets. Four months ago, Janus got permission from Taiwan’s Securities and Futures Commission to seek out local distribution.

Richard Garland, chief executive officer of Janus International, said Taiwan is Janus’ largest market in Asia, with one-quarter of its $2 billion of Asian assets.

"We see Taiwan as one of our biggest growth markets in Asia and outside the United States," Garland said.

Janus’ asset base has fallen considerably in recent years. The company announced yesterday that its assets under management dropped 3.8% in the first quarter, to $132.7 billion worldwide and down from more than $300 billion at the stock markets' peak three years ago.

It also said first-quarter profit plummeted 60% to $38.6 million, or 17 cents a diluted share, from $97.2 million, or 42 cents a diluted share, the year earlier.

Distributing funds through banks in Taiwan is attractive for Janus because mutual fund distribution in Asia is controlled by banks, Garland said, and unlike European and North American markets that focus on selling proprietary products, Asian banks have an open architecture model.

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