A small-fry Internet fund reaching out to small-fry investors shows it's a lot tougher to sell an Internet fund than it used to be.

Rookie Internet fund


lowered its minimum initial investment from $2,500 to just $250 Tuesday, a move that probably reflects heightened competition among tech funds.

More than 20 Internet funds have been

launched in the last six months, even as the sector has sputtered. Last year, the average tech fund rocketed up 135%, but since Jan. 1, the average tech fund is down some 10%.

Increased competition and flagging performance will probably make it tough for the obscure fund, with untested manager Omar Rivero at the helm, to draw investor dollars.


previewed it on March 30.

Tech-Fund Explosion Continues

Just when you thought the tech-fund mania was subsiding, yet another rolls off the assembly line.

The latest is

Northern Global Communications

, which Chicago-based

Northern Funds

launched on Monday. The firm already has a


Technology fund, but this new high-octane, all-cap offering will focus on subsectors like wireless communications, cell-phone service and fiber-optic concerns. The fund may invest overseas without limit, but company marketing material says the fund's foreign stake should be around 25% of assets.

Ken Turek and Mike Eggly will co-manage the fund. Turek has managed equity portfolios for institutional investors for Northern Trust since joining the firm in 1997. Eggly, a senior telecommunications analyst, joined the shop last year. The fund's prospectus doesn't indicate either manager has any past experience running a retail mutual fund.

Thanks to a fee waiver, the fund will be fairly cheap. There's no sales charge, and its annual expenses are 1.70%, slightly lower than the average tech fund's 1.75% expense ratio.

Master's Select to Offer Small-Cap Fund

Master's Select is putting together another team of specialists for a new portfolio, this time to manage small caps, according to papers filed with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

. The company isn't saying when the fund will make its debut or which high-profile managers it will tap to run the fund.


Master's Select Smaller Companies

fund is the latest for the Orinda, Calif.-based

Litman/Gregory Advisers

. The company's two other offerings,

(MSEFX) - Get Report

Master's Select Equity and

(MSILX) - Get Report

Master's Select International funds, are managed by all-star teams whose members each run a portion of the portfolios in their own style.

There are also plans in the works to roll out a value offering.

Evergreeen to Fold Nine Funds

Spring cleaning has come to



The mutual-fund unit of

First Union


has proposed folding nine small funds into larger portfolios with similar investment objectives, according to papers filed with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

. A shareholder vote will take place on July 14, and if approved, the reorganization will take place a week later.

The nine portfolios and the funds they'll fold into are:

  • Equity Income into (ETRAX) Income and Growth.
  • Select Small Company Value into (ESQAX) Small Cap Value.
  • Select Large Cap Blend and Select Diversified Value into (EVSYX) - Get Report Stock Selector.
  • Select Social Principles into (ESddX) Select Special Equity.
  • (EBLAX) Capital Balanced into (EFOAX) Foundation.
  • (EHIAX) - Get Report High Income into (EKHAX) - Get Report High Yield Bond.
  • Capital Preservation and Income into (EKIZX) - Get Report Select Adjustable Rate.
  • Select Total Return into (ESIIX) - Get Report Select Income Plus.

"The feedback we got from our investors is that we had some products that were very similar,'' says Evergreen spokesman Chad Petersen.

In folding up the funds, Evergreen also will get rid of its socially responsible offering, the

Social Principles

fund, because the company found it was "not a viable business plan for us,'' Petersen says. But the same team that runs that portfolio also manages Select Special Equity, the fund it will be folded into.