Just in time for spring,


is weeding out its offering of mutual funds.

The fund company is asking shareholders to approve the shutdown or merger of 11 funds. Oddly, it is imposing redemption fees on four of those funds -- plus five others.

But the Denver-based company only released the news locally on Tuesday, and downplayed its significance when


called on Wednesday.

"I don't know why it's such a big deal," Invesco spokeswoman Laura Parsons said Wednesday. "There were 400 fund changes last year

industrywide. We are simply trying to clean up and clear out our product line."

In a vote scheduled for May 20, shareholders will be asked to approve reducing the number of funds offered by the company by about 25%. Three funds would be closed and their assets disbursed. Eight would be merged into other Invesco funds.

Total assets of the 11 funds total less than $245 million.

Parsons says a lack of demand and product duplication -- as well as the addition of Mark Williamson as chief executive early last year -- prompted the proposed closures and mergers.

"One of the first things

Williamson did was look at the product line," Parsons says. "The thought of the matter is that we've got a lot of funds out there, and there's some duplication."

The proposed closings were reported Wednesday in the

Denver Post

, but the company did not issue a general news release.

"People are saying, 'Why are you doing this all at once?'" Parsons says. "But I think it's better for our customers

this way than having it drip on them."

The company's equity funds, as a group, have returns that are slightly better than the average equity fund so far this year, according to


. But for the last 12 months, the Invesco funds returned an average of 2.1%, compared with an average of 3.5% for all equity funds.

The company is imposing early redemption fees on nine of its funds, including four of the funds it's proposing be shut down. A 2% fee would be imposed on shares redeemed within three months of purchase; for shares redeemed between three and six months from their purchase, a 1% fee will apply. The fees will apply to shares purchased after May 1.

They are:

Four of the funds on this list -- International Growth, European Small Company, Asian Growth and Emerging Market -- are targeted for merger or dissolution. Fees won't apply to the transfer of those assets from these funds if they are dissolved, Parson says.

Parsons stressed that the company had a record sales year in 1998 and that assets under management were growing. But she also said more changes could soon come at the fund company under Williamson's leadership.

"Expect to see more changes," Parsons said. "I think they're all positive and I think people are going to look at us in a few months and say, 'They're doing the right thing.'"

"The sky isn't falling."