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Founder Returns to Tragedy-Struck Funds Firm

With his brother presumed dead in the WTC attack, Fred Alger returns to run the firm he founded.

With his brother believed to be a victim of Tuesday's World Trade Center attack, Fred Alger is retaking the reins of the funds firm he founded 37 years ago.

Fred Alger Management, the adviser of the $16 billion Alger family of funds, had 55 portfolio managers, analysts and administrative workers in its headquarters on the 93rd floor of the north tower. The firm said Thursday that 38 of those workers, including 57-year-old President and Chief Investment Officer David Alger, are unaccounted for in the wake of the terrorist attack.

Founder and Chairman Fred Alger, 66, David Alger's brother, will run the day-to-day operations from the firm's New Jersey offices, which house most of its 235 employees.

"The terrorist attack is a personal tragedy for my family as well as for all of our employees and their families," Fred Alger said in a company statement. "Fortunately, a nucleus of research analysts survived the attack. All of our administrative, marketing, and fund-pricing functions, which operate out of our Morristown, N.J., office, were unaffected."

David Alger, who'd worked at Alger Funds since 1971 and served as president since 1995, was one of the fund world's most soft-spoken stars, helping to pioneer today's pre-eminent high-octane growth investment style.

"David Alger was clearly one of the most successful practitioners of an aggressive brand of growth investing," says Scott Cooley, a senior fundanalyst with Chicago fund tracker Morningstar.

Alger managed or co-managed 16 stock funds. He had his longest tenure on the large-cap growth

Spectra

fund, which he'd run since 1974. Over the past 10 years, the fund averaged a 17% annualized gain, beating the

S&P 500

by more than 3 percentage points and leading 98% of its peers.

Beyond his skill at picking stocks, Alger was a keen judge of talent. The list of analysts he'd hired includes Tom Marsico and Helen Young Hayes, who helped make Denver-based Janus the growth-fund juggernaut it is.

"In addition to building a terrific long-term record as a fund manager, he was also one of the industry's best talent scouts," says Cooley. "Simply put, he was a giant in this industry."

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Marsico ran the

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Janus Twenty fund for nearly 10 years and the

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Janus Growth & Income fund from its 1991 inception through 1997, when he left to start his own firm. Helen Young Hayes is widely regarded as perhaps the industry's top growth-oriented foreign stock picker. She has run the

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Janus Overseas and

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Worldwide funds since 1992 and 1994, respectively.

Alger Fund shareholders shouldn't fret about the status of their accounts; the firm will resume investing when the market reopens, according to a statement. Shareholders with questions can call the firm's customer service line, 1-800-992-3863. They can also check the company's Web site, (

www.algerfunds.com), where they can chat with a service representative online.

Ian McDonald writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He invites you to send your feedback to

imcdonald@thestreet.com, but he cannot give specific financial advice.