Husband and Wife Acorn Fund Managers to Step Down

May 1, 2003 ( - Ralph Wanger, lead manager of the $5.8-billion Liberty Acorn Fund and Leah Zell, lead manager for the $1.2-billion Liberty Acorn International Fund are stepping down.

Ralph Wanger plans to hand over day-to-day management responsibilities to co-manager Chuck McQuaid, who has helped run the fund for the past eight years. McQuaid will also take on the role of chief investment officer of Liberty Wanger Asset Management, according to a Liberty Wanger news release.

Right on Wanger’s heels is his wife, Leah Zell, the lead manager of the Liberty Acorn International Fund. Both managers plan to turn over the reins at the end of September, but will continue as advisers to the Liberty Acorn funds. Also, Wanger will continue penning the “Squirrel Chatter” column, which has earned him a reputation for frank and entertaining discussion to his investors.

Wanger’s Acorn fund was launched 33 years ago, and in June 2000, he sold his firm, Wanger Asset Management, to Liberty Financial for $450 million.FleetBoston Financial Corp. then purchased Liberty’s asset-management unit, and its amalgamation of managers, including Wanger, Farnham, and Crabbe Huson, about a year later for about $900 million.All of these money managers have been consolidated under the umbrella of Fleet’s asset-management unit, Columbia Management Group.