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Amid steep outflows and a market that's given their style the cold shoulder, two struggling value funds are asking their shareholders to let them merge.

In April, shareholders of $28.8 million mid-cap

(RCHTX) - Get Report

Reich & Tang Equity fund will get a proxy in the mail asking them to approve merging into the $70.2 million small-cap

(DEFIX)

Delafield fund, according to a preliminary proxy filing with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

.

Both funds' value bent has left them reeling in a growth-obsessed market. Reich & Tang Equity doesn't come close to matching its average peer from any angle over the past 10 years, according to

Morningstar

. Delafield, launched in 1993, only matches its category average over the past year. Both funds' annualized returns over the past five years are around 10%, trailing the

S&P 500

by some 16 percentage points.

The merger should work well for the funds' shareholders, the few who have stuck around. Both funds follow similar styles and after the merger both funds' shareholders will pay lower expenses, 1.25% annually. Delafield's co-managers, J. Dennis Delafield and Vincent Sellecchia, are familiar with Equity's management and portfolio.

The average small-cap value fund's expense ratio is 1.53%, according to Morningstar.

More Choices From Choice

Tiny fund purveyor

Choice Funds

plans to add a

Balanced

fund to its evolving product line. The fund, which plans to invest up to 25% of its assets in investment-grade bonds and the other portion in growth stocks, will make its debut on Monday.

Balanced is the second offering from the Denver-based fund company run by former

Berger

portfolio manager Patrick Adams.

Adams, who also ran

Founder's

(FRINX) - Get Report

Balanced fund when he was there, says the equity portion of the portfolio, ranging between 45% and 65% of assets, will be run similarly to the older

(CHFCX)

Choice Focus fund. That fund, with $50 million in assets, launched in November and has a 12.2% return so far this year, well ahead of its category average.

Adams racked up an impressive record during his nearly two years at Berger, where he ran that firm's

(BEBAX)

Balanced and

(BESLX)

Select portfolios and co-managed the

(BEOOX)

TST Recommends

Growth & Income fund.

He runs the Focus fund in a concentrated style similar to the way he managed the Berger Select fund. Under his watch, that fund ended 1998 with a 72.3% return, beating 99% of its peers in the mid-cap growth category, according to

Morningstar

(Adams left Berger in mid-1999.)

Adams is a fairly conservative manager. At the Focus, he has only about 40% in technology, though

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

and

Lycos

(LCOS)

are among its top five holdings. "We aren't dependent on technology for performance,'' he says. Another 40% is in consumer sector, financials and health care.

Choice has about $80 million in assets under management. In addition to the Focus fund, the company also runs private accounts and a hedge fund.

Value Manager Reevaluates Move

At

John Hancock Funds

, Tim Quinlisk has come and gone, and come back again. All within about 60 days.

On Jan. 20, Quinlisk

left Boston-based Hancock where he co-managed the $1.6 billion

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Large Cap Value and $412 million

(SPVAX)

Small Cap Value funds, to go to

Denver Investment Advisors

, which manages the

Westcore Funds

.

Then Hancock lost Tim Keefe, the value funds' other manger, to

Thomas Weisel Partners

.

After some wooing, Quinlisk is back in his old office running the two broker-sold funds solo. He's worked on them since 1998. Over the past year, Small Cap Value is up a whopping 121%, which beats virtually all its peers, according to Morningstar. Large Cap Value is up 45.7%, beating 96% of its peers over the same time period.

See Thursday's

Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.

See Wednesday's

Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.

See Tuesday's

Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.

See Monday's

Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.