The new chief investment officer at Dreyfus said his mission is more about improving fund performance at the New York mutual fund company than parent Mellon Financial's desire to consolidate brands.

The CIO is Phil Maisano, the head of alternative investments at Mellon Asset Management of Pittsburgh. He was also named Dreyfus' vice chairman.

Maisano succeeds Steve Byers, 53, who resigned Nov. 13 to "pursue other opportunities" after five years as Dreyfus' chief investment officer, the Pittsburgh banking company said Monday.

Maisano, 59, called the move the next step in the evolution of the Mellon-Dreyfus relationship, but analysts were skeptical.

Geoffrey Bobroff, the president of Bobroff Consulting in East Greenwich, R.I., said Dreyfus' performance has been flat for the past several years. Dreyfus says its assets stand at $190 billion, up 17.7% from the end of 2004.

"Their performance just hasn't been interesting in the past couple of years," Bobroff said. "They have gone through several changes and they are trying to find the right mix. The company knows that it needs strong performance in order to improve its overall third-party distribution."

Maisano, who was also was appointed to Dreyfus' board of directors and its operating committee, agreed that performance "has not been optimal."

"Performance has just been OK," he said. "We certainly don't have problems with our client base, but in the mutual fund industry you can keep assets with decent performance, but to grow and move forward you need spectacular performance. Our effort is to improve performance."

Maisano said he will oversee management of Mellon's 14 boutique investment management firms and try to strike the right balance of investments for Dreyfus' products.

"This is really unlike most CIO positions in the industry," he said. "It is my job to align Dreyfus' portfolio. We have the capabilities from our unique collection of subsidiaries. It is my job to create the proper mix."

To do that, Maisano said he would use Mellon's current boutique managers and third-party managers. He said he would consider acquisitions that would help overall investment performance.

"Our ultimate goal is to improve investment performance to benefit our shareholders," he said. "If we don't have strong investment performance, then we really don't have much of a mutual fund business. We want to be classified as an excellent mutual fund company."

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