As a result of a 10% decline in assets since the end of 2000, John Hancock Funds of Boston is on the hunt for a few more outside mutual funds or small fund families that it can acquire and merge into its $18.7 billion family of 50 funds. The fund complex is a wholly owned subsidiary of John Hancock Financial Services, which collectively manages $29 billion in open- and closed-end funds, separate accounts and retirement plans.

In particular, Hancock is shopping for an aggressive growth fund as well as either a small-cap or large-cap value fund, said Keith Hartstein, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Hancock. The ideal candidates would have between $3 billion to $4 billion under management, a clean regulatory record and not be embroiled in any proxy battle, he added.

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