Scudder Funds

, a unit of

ScudderKemper Investments

, will slap sales charges on three funds next month. The firm is the latest no-load shop to turn to the broker-sold channel.

On May 5, pending approval of paperwork filed with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

, Scudder's


21st Century Growth,


Japan and

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High Yield Tax-Free funds will get class A, B, and C shares, which charge loads, or fees to pay a broker's commission.

The funds will keep their Scudder labels, but wholesalers from broker-sold Kemper funds will pitch the funds through advisers. The funds will keep their no-load share classes, and will continue to be sold directly to investors without sales commissions.

The new loaded share classes will match Kemper's pricing structure, where class A shares charge a maximum 5.75% front-end load (4.5% on bond funds) and maximum back-end loads that range from 1% to 4% on B and C shares. Class B and C shares have higher annual expenses due to an annual 0.75% 12b-1 marketing fee.

These funds, which each has solid performance relative to their peers, according to


, also fill gaps in Kemper's fund lineup. The standout is tech-heavy 21st Century Growth, which is up 147% over the past year. Of course, Japan's 91.3% over the past year is nothing to sneeze at either.

Rising account balances and complex tax issues have spurred many investors to turn to brokers, so

many no-load firms have taken steps to get a piece of the action. Most recently

Strong Funds

added adviser share classes -- signifying shares that pay broker commissions -- to a dozen of its funds.

This move is probably among the more sensible. Scudder's connection to Kemper gives the firm to access a network of brokers, so it doesn't have to distract itself building a sales organization to cater to brokers.

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Scudder also made news last month when it announced

plans to cut its product line by about 40% through fund mergers and closings.

Strategist, American Express Funds to Merge

Speaking of mergers, next month

American Express

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plans to ask shareholders of its small, no-load


funds to merge their funds into their broker-sold American Express counterparts.

The merger looks like a good deal for Strategist shareholders, who must approve them via a proxy that should be sent out in mid-April, according to preliminary filings with the SEC. As a result of the proposal, Strategist funds are no longer being sold to new investors.

The proxy proposes that each of the 14 merging Strategist funds go into what is essentially an American Express fund clone. If shareholders approve, they'll get class A shares of the American Express fund, but will be allowed to buy more shares on a no-load basis. The upshot is that Strategist shareholders will get the same fund with lower expenses.

It also looks like a good move for American Express since the direct-sold funds haven't taken off. Many of the Strategist funds have only about $1 million in assets, and none come close to $100 million -- often described as a break-even point in the industry. The average domestic stock fund has assets of nearly $1 billion, according to



The American Express funds the Strategist shareholders will move into have more assets, making it easier to keep expenses low.

Proxies are due May 9.

See Wednesday's

Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.

See Tuesday's

Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.

See Monday's

Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.