OpenFund closes its doors
August 2, 2001 Posted: 2147 GMT
NEW YORK (CNNfn) -- MetaMarkets.com, a mutual fund company that sought to make portfolios more transparent by revealing holdings in real time over the Internet, said on Thursday it planned to shutter its struggling funds.
The San Francisco-based company's board of trustees approved the liquidation of the $9.9 million OpenFund and the $1.4 million IPO & New Era Fund, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Although the funds are being liquidated, the company itself said it is in talks to be acquired in order to offer similar funds via a larger group.
"The funds are a casualty of the economy. We've been through the worst bear market in 50 years, maybe 100 years," Donald Luskin, the chief executive of MetaMarkets, told CNNfn.com. "In these times, small innovative companies don't always make it. Large companies that stay away from innovation are usually the ports in the storm."
The OpenFund, launched in August 1999, has fallen 26 percent so far this year after dropping 42 percent in 2000, according to fund tracker Morningstar Inc. The IPO & New Era portfolio has fallen 57 percent since its September 2000 inception, according to data on the company's Web site.
Unlike most mutual fund companies that disclose their holdings only twice a year in shareholder reports, MetaMarkets posted around-the-clock updates on its Web site about the trading activity in its portfolios.
When asked if the funds were created for investors looking for the ultimate in full disclosure or another form of financial entertainment, Luskin said both. "Disclosure has the connotation of regulatory compliance. We started out to provide information-the funds are out to provide entertaining information. Wall Street isn't the only place to get it."
Analysts see the fund as a gimmick trying to attract investors. "The entertainment, the gimmick, doesn't really have anything to do with investing," said Russ Kinnel, fund analyst with Moringstar.com. "They brought chat boards to life in a mutual fund."
MetaMarkets wants to offer similar funds, but under the umbrella of a bigger company better equipped to withstand the tough economic times, Luskin said. The company is in talks to be acquired by an online financial services or content company, he added, declining to provide more details.
The company has hired investment bank Allen & Co. to find a suitable partner, MetaMarkets said in a news release issued Thursday morning.
"It's clear to us we set in motion a revolution that cannot be turned back," Luskin said. "The need for empowering investors to have information on the way their own money is invested is not going away."
-- from staff and wire reports
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