Harris Associates L. P. Discontinues Use of Soft Dollars to Pay for Third Party Research and Services
--Also Provides Updated Oakmark Funds Ownership Information--
CHICAGO, April 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Effective April 1, 2005, Harris Associates L.P. has discontinued the use of "soft dollars" to pay for third- party research and services for all client accounts, including The Oakmark Funds. The future cost of these services will be paid entirely by Harris Associates. TRADING AND SOFT DOLLAR PRACTICES "We have always been mindful of how to best serve our clients and shareholders -- and how to do so fairly," says John Raitt, President and CEO of Harris Associates L.P. and President of The Oakmark Funds. "We have recently given a significant amount of thought and attention to our trading practices, as the equity trading and execution landscape has changed tremendously over the past few years. The traditional institutional stock brokerage arrangement -- where trade execution is bundled with research and other services into one commission charge -- is beginning to unravel under the pressure of market forces. These trends have caused us to reassess our approach to the use of 'soft dollar' commissions to pay for third-party research and services." "Our soft dollar practices have always been well within the scope of SEC- sanctioned practices, which explicitly permit the use of brokerage commissions to pay for such services," continues Raitt. "We believe that we have been small users of third-party research and services compared to most investment advisers, and we don't believe that our use of soft dollars has increased trading costs. However, as the brokerage industry moves toward unbundling trading from research and other services, we are less confident that this will be true in the future." For this reason, Harris Associates has discontinued the use of soft dollars to pay for third-party research and services, effective April 1, 2005. "Our primary trading focus, as always, will be to obtain best execution for our clients and shareholders, and clients can be assured that we will continue to monitor industry developments," states Raitt. UPDATE ON PERSONAL INVESTMENT IN THE OAKMARK FUNDS One of the key components of the Harris Associates investment process has been to invest in companies where management interests are closely aligned with those of shareholders. While there are many ways to create such a link, the investment team believes that this alignment is most frequently and most effectively created by significant management stock ownership. "When management has a meaningful sum invested alongside other shareholders, the focus on performance and shareholder value is intensified," comments Raitt. "We believe that this same approach is also wise for mutual fund investors. Significant ownership of fund shares -- not just by portfolio managers, but by all levels of employees at the fund and its adviser (including analysts, senior management, trustees and others) -- reinforces a higher standard of integrity, focus, and commitment to maximizing long-term returns." "A commitment to the share ownership is an integral part of our business philosophy. We encourage employee ownership of the Funds and are committed to reporting on our ownership on a regular basis," ends Raitt. As of December 31, 2004, the employees of the Funds' adviser, Harris Associates L.P., and the Funds' trustees have over $180 million invested in The Oakmark Funds. This compares to an investment of $145 million in December 2003, when Harris Associates last reported holdings. This increase represents a combination of price appreciation and additional purchases. More information about Oakmark's commitment to shareholders, the Oakmark investment philosophy and process, and manager commentary and fund holdings can be accessed at http://www.oakmark.com . ABOUT THE OAKMARK FUNDS AND HARRIS ASSOCIATES L.P.: The Oakmark Funds are a $29.6 billion mutual fund family that utilizes a long-term value investment approach. Harris Associates L. P., a Chicago-based investment management firm founded in 1976, also manages domestic and international separate accounts for institutional and high net worth investors. The Oakmark Funds are distributed by Harris Associates Securities L.P., member NASD. For more information, including management fees and expenses and the special risks of investing, visit http://www.oakmark.com or call 1-800-OAKMARK for a prospectus. An investor should consider a fund's investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses carefully before investing. This and other information are contained in the prospectus.
SOURCE Harris Associates L.P.
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