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Evergreen CEO to Retire Amid Mutual Fund Closure

Evergreen Investments, the mutual-fund operation, will soon get new leadership.

The money-management unit of banking giant Wachovia Corp. told employees on Tuesday that Chief Executive Dennis Ferro, 63 years old, will retire at the end of this year, five years after assuming the top job. He will be succeeded by Peter Cieszko, 48, currently head of global distribution, who has been at Evergreen since July 2006.

The leadership changes come amid a troubled time for Evergreen. In the past year, the firm has been besieged with problems because of its funds’ mortgage- and asset-backed investments.

Evergreen’s money-market funds held some such securities, which eventually Wachovia had to step in and buy, in order to prevent the funds from breaking the buck — when their net asset value per share falls below the $1 money-market standard. Wachovia booked a loss of more than $40 million on the asset-backed securities it purchased from Evergreen’s money funds.

Last month, the unit announced the liquidation of one of its bond funds, Evergreen Ultra Short Opportunities Fund, after it lost half of its value in six months, thanks to subprime-mortgage investments.