Pilgrim Mutual Funds of Phoenix, Ariz. plans to merge a handful of funds with overlapping investment objectives as a result of ReliaStar Financial Corp.'s recent purchase of Pilgrim Capital Corp., also of Phoenix.

Pilgrim has proposed merging Pilgrim High Yield Fund III into Pilgrim High Yield Fund II; Pilgrim Government Sercurities Fund into Pilgrim Government Securities Income Fund; and Pilgrim Income & Growth Fund and Pilgrim Balance Sheet Opportunities Fund into Pilgrim Balance Fund. The proposals were outlined in proxy statements the funds filed with the SEC Dec. 21.

On July 22, ReliaStar of Minneapolis, Minn. and Pilgrim announced the acquisition, valued at $258 million, in a move which ReliaStar said provided it with a larger scale fund operation. The combined mutual fund assets of the companies were approximately $12 billion as of Oct. 29, when the sale closed. A Pilgrim spokesperson was not available for comment.

The funds' directors cited the funds similar investment objectives among the merged funds and the desire to reduce costs as reasons for recommending the mergers to shareholders, according to the proxy statements. Shareholders are scheduled to vote on the proposals at a meeting March 24.

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