For Many, Janus Global Tech's Doors Shut Earlier Than Expected

But there still may be a way into the popular fund.
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Janus'

closing of its $8 billion

(JAGTX) - Get Report

Global Technology fund had all the precision of a goat rodeo.

On Friday, the Denver-based fund giant issued a press release announcing that the sizzling fund, fresh off a 212% 1999 return, would close to new investors the following Tuesday. But Janus' announcement didn't mention that the deadline applied only to investors who already owned or had requested information about a Janus fund. That left many investors shut out when they tried to buy shares at what they thought was the last minute.

But there still may be a way to get in.

A mutual fund cash desk -- the department that processes applications for new accounts -- typically doesn't turn money away. So, if you absolutely, positively have to get into this fund, try this: Print the fund's prospectus and application from Janus'

Web site. Global Technology is currently off the application, but if you write it in, attach a check for the fund's $2,500 minimum or more, and mail it all in by Friday, there's a chance you'll end up with an account. No guarantees, but it's worth a try.

Why is this roundabout approach necessary?

"We were not as clear as we should have been in writing that announcement," admits Shelley Grice, a Janus spokeswoman.

Here are the facts: If you didn't own shares of Global Technology or any other Janus fund, the only way you could have invested in the fund Tuesday was if you had ordered a prospectus by the close of business Friday.

But if you owned shares of any Janus fund or if you'd requested a prospectus by Jan. 18, Janus would accept your check and application postmarked by Friday, Jan. 21.

But those details weren't in Janus' announcement, so many investors were turned away when they tried to buy shares Tuesday, judging from emails from sent to

TSC

and posted to Internet message boards.

A

TSC

reporter was one of many callers asking for shares Tuesday night. After holding for more than 17 minutes, he was told he couldn't buy shares because Janus had no record of any previous prospectus request. The service rep said he would've had a shot even if he'd just requested information on any Janus fund before Jan. 18.

Adding to the confusion, message board posters say phone reps at

Ameritrade

(AMTD) - Get Report

and

Datek

were telling customers they could buy shares until the close of business Tuesday, but when the same investors consulted the Janus Web site, it said the fund was closed.

Janus acknowledges the confusion and says it tried to give investors a few more opportunities over the holiday weekend to get into the fund. Global Technology had come off the online application first thing Saturday morning, but Janus added it back at midday Monday. The fund was again taken off the application very late Monday.

Also, Janus accepted phone requests for prospectuses and applications on Monday and overnighted them to investors.

Obviously, this isn't how it's supposed to work. Janus could have explained the closing better in its announcement. The company says this closing follows standard procedure and cited last April's closing of

(JAVLX)

Janus Twenty as an example. But Janus Twenty's closing announcement noted that non-Janus shareholders had to act fast to order a prospectus and application if they wanted to invest. That would have helped in this announcement.

The confusion was exacerbated by strong demand for the fund's shares. In a banner year for tech stocks and tech funds, Global Technology was a standout. Rookie manager Michael Lu outpaced 92% of his tech fund peers, according to

Morningstar

.

Even though the fund is just over a year old, it was the 13th bestseller last year through November, according to the latest data from Boston fund-tracker

Financial Research

.

The fund's message boards were the most active on Morningstar's site yesterday. About half the recent postings were investors trading the fund closing's sketchy details back and forth.