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First, MetaMarkets lifted the curtain off equity investing. Now it's doing so with investing in initial public offerings.

The South San Francisco company is coming out with a new fund, according to the papers filed with the Securities Exchange Commission, that will invest mainly in IPOs and stocks of young companies.

The new offering, the

MetaMarket IPO and Emerging Company

fund, will be run similarly to the MetaMarkets' flagship


Open Fund. According to the filing, the fund will list its holdings in real time. As soon as a trade is completed, it will be broadcast on the fund's Web site.

While investors are watching the fund's continuous movements, they should know that the new offering intends to be freewheeling. Along with IPOs, the fund will invest in companies that are no more than 18 months from its offering. The fund plans to the invest primarily in stocks of New Economy companies. If the IPO market dries up or doesn't offer enough attractive opportunities, the fund will instead buy exchange-traded funds that represent an index.

The fund plans to be a frequent trader to take advantage of short-term gains. And it intends to short stocks and use leverage.

Additionally, the fund cautions that it may retreat into cash if portfolio managers turn bearish. It can also invest up to 25% of the fund in shares of companies that are beyond the IPO or young company stage. According to the filing, the fund may close to new investors after reaching $300 million in assets.

The MetaMarkets offering joins the ranks of other IPO funds:


IPO Plus Aftermarket and the


H&Q IPO & Emerging Company .

Alleghany/Veredus SciTech Becomes Tech Fund #77

Nearly 30 of the 76 tech-sector funds out there have launched in the last year. Here comes number 77.

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Alleghany/Veredus SciTech

, a no-load all-cap tech fund, launched June 30. The fund will spread its assets among all flavors of tech companies, including software, hardware, Internet and wireless shops.

B. Anthony Weber and Charles McCurdy Jr., of Louisville, Ky.-based subadviser

Veredus Asset Management

, will hold the reins. The pair also runs


Alleghany/Veredus Aggressive Growth, a tech-heavy small-cap growth fund launched in June 1998. The fund beat most of its peers last year, posting a 113% return, but its 9.1% return over the past three months trails more than 90% of its peers, according to



The SciTech fund doesn't levy a load, but it does carry a 0.25% 12b-1 (or marketing fee) to pay advisers for selling the fund. The fund's annual expenses will be capped at a modest 1.5% in its first year. That's lower than the average tech fund's 1.75% expenses, but if the cap were lifted the fund's expense ratio would be above 3%.

Van Kampen Plans to Merge Junk Bond Funds

Van Kampen

plans to ask shareholders of one high-yield, or junk, bond fund to approve their fund's merger into a bigger, cheaper and similar high-yield fund.

The firm will soon ask shareholders of the $32.4 million


Van Kampen High-Yield & Total Return fund to approve a merger with $807.9 million

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Van Kampen High-Income Corporate Bond, according to a preliminary proxy filed with regulators Thursday. Though the two funds have different managers, their performance has been similar, with 3.49% and 3.38% three-year annualized returns, respectively. Both beat roughly two-thirds of their high-yield bond fund peers over that time period, according to Morningstar.

Expenses, more important on bond funds than stock funds due to their more modest returns, are lower on the bigger High-Income Corporate Bond Fund, which charges 1.03% compared with 1.25% for its smaller sibling.

The proxy will mail in August, according to the filing.

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