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CI garners the most accolades at Canadian Investment Awards

FUNDS REPORTER

CI Investments Inc. snagged the most hardware at the Canadian Investment Awards last night, including one for Gerry Coleman as Morningstar fund manger of the year.

This is the second time he has won the coveted award. Mr. Coleman, who runs CI Harbour and CI Harbour Growth & Income funds, also took this honour during the 2001 bear market.

The awards ceremony, which recognizes everything from fund performance to marketing, comes at a troubled time for the industry. The worst stock market collapse in recent memory has left many equity funds deep in the red.

The fund manager of the year award goes to someone who has "consistently made money over the long term, and ... is generally a good steward of unitholders' capital," said Morningstar Canada fund analyst Jordan Benincasa.

CI Harbour fund shed 24.3 per cent for the year ended Oct. 31, compared with a 31-per-cent loss, including dividends, for the S&P/TSX composite index. Over the 11 years the fund has existed, however, it has gained an average annual return of 7.4 per cent.

Among 54 funds with an 11-year record, CI Harbour was the second-best performer among domestic equity funds, which can invest nearly 50 per cent in foreign stocks.

Mr. Coleman has a "distinctive take on value investing" in that he avoids distressed businesses, and also looks at macro-economic trends when he picks stocks, Mr. Benincasa added.

"His above-average exposure to the natural resource sector has hurt the fund [lately], but it has worked out well over the longer term."

CI, a unit of CI Financial Income Fund, lured Mr. Coleman away from Mackenzie Financial Corp. in 1997. The media-shy manager, who is in his early 60s, prefers to work from his home rather than the fund company's downtown Toronto offices. Mr. Coleman, who was out of the country, was not available for comment.

He and former long-time partner Jerry Javasky joined Mackenzie in 1992 after leaving fund manager United Financial Management. Mr. Javasky, who runs the Mackenzie Ivy Canadian Fund, was named fund manager of the year in 1998 and 2002.

CI won a total of six awards last night. CI Harbour and CI Growth & Income funds took top honours, respectively, in the Canadian equity and Canadian balanced fund categories. CI Signature Income & Growth snared the award in the global balanced fund category, while CI Signature Canadian Resources won in the natural resource group. CI American Value was tops among U.S. equity pooled funds.

AMONG OTHER WINNERS

DYNAMIC FOCUS + Small Business fund took the top award in small-to-mid-cap category.

MAWER WORLD INVESTMENT FUND, which won in the international equity category.

JC CLARK PRESERVATION TRUST snared the award in the opportunistic hedge fund group.

DYNAMIC FUNDS, a unit of DundeeWealth Inc., won the analysts' choice favourite fund award.

AGF MANAGEMENT LTD. took the award as the advisers' choice investment fund company of the year.

© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.

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