Skip to main content

You just can't believe everything you read. At least that's what top

Fidelity

mutual fund manager

George Vanderheiden

will tell you.

In fact, he does tell you. In a unusual phone recording made for brokers and advisers who sell Fidelity funds, Vanderheiden denied that he had plans to retire after 26 years at Fidelity--and he offered a few choice words of criticism for the press.

Fund managers usually leave commentary about the market's direction on the special toll-free 800 line, but Vanderheiden delayed his commentary on the "Dogs of the Dow" to first deny the rumors and lash out at the press in a lengthy monologue.

"Before I talk about 1997 investment ideas, I think it's important to discuss some of the things that I've read about Fidelity in the press. Lately, I've taken a personal interest, because some of the articles have focused on me," the manager says in the recording, pointing specifically to an article in the Jan. 13

Fortune

that began "The word I had was that George Vanderheiden was quitting Fidelity."

TheStreet Recommends

Not true, Vanderheiden says. "First and foremost, I am not retiring. Repeat, I am not retiring. Rumors of my retirement date back to 1991. One time, the media even narrowed my retirement down to the exact date. I don't know where the rumors come from, nor do I know how to address them, other than to say it is simply not true."

Vanderheiden then proceeds to defend Fidelity against charges that the company has lost its top talent and is suffering from "malaise" (in

Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine

) and "losing it" (in

Fortune

).

"Fund manager changes mostly result from changes that we, Fidelity, create. It is a collective process," he says. "As you know, Fidelity conducted a major realignment last March. I was part of that decision¿ It was a long, thoughtful process, not one that was made overnight. And I was frankly surprised at the massive media attention. This change was simply an output of our growth."

A Fidelity spokeswoman says she hasn't heard the message. "I'm sure George feels it is appropriate to take the opportunity to address the rumor and kill the rumor," she says. "There are a number of rumors circulating that he had plans to leave, and they're just not true."

By Alex Berenson

aberenson@thestreet.com