Principal to Acquire Money Manager

July 26, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Principal Financial Group has announced an agreement to acquire WM Advisors, manager of the WM Group of Funds.

WM Advisors is a mutual fund manager that provides investment advisory services to mutual funds, variable trust funds and asset allocation portfolios to around 800,000 shareholder accounts nationwide, according to the announcement. Following the acquisition, Principal Mutual Funds, with about $28 billion in assets under management (AUM), is expected to reach about $49 billion in AUM.

WM Funds is a family of 40 retail mutual funds and variable trust funds, diversified across a range of asset classes, the announcement said. The funds have ranked in the top 15 in Barron’s Fund Performance six of the past seven years. WM Advisors is best known for its Strategic Asset Management Portfolios (SAM Portfolios), a series of five fund-of-funds with different investor risk profiles. The money manager has more than $12 billion in lifecycle target-risk funds AUM.

WM Advisors’ mutual funds are distributed among 1,500 securities representatives of WM Financial Services located in Washington Mutual bank branches. After closing the acquisition, Principal will offer mutual funds and annuity products to Washington Mutual customers through WM Financial Services. Principal Mutual Funds will manage more than 100 funds following the transaction.

“Moving forward, we will continue to extend our leading retirement franchise, pursue aggressive growth targets and build value for shareholders, and remain steadfast in helping Americans achieve financial security and success,” said Principal’s President and Chief Operating Officer Larry Zimpleman, in the announcement.

The $740 million purchase is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2006.

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