Labor Department Subpoenas Morningstar Consulting Unit

By Anna Johnson
Associated Press
May 24, 2005

CHICAGO (AP) - The U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday subpoenaed the consulting unit of mutual fund and stock research firm Morningstar Inc., company officials said.

Morningstar Chairman and CEO Joe Mansueto said the company believes the subpoena of Morningstar Associates, an investment adviser on 401(k) plans, is related to investigations by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"We are fully cooperating with all three agencies and support the work they are doing to help protect the interests of investors," Mansueto said in a statement.

Labor department officials did not return a call for comment late Tuesday.

In December, the company said it had received a subpoena from Spitzer related to possible conflicts in Morningstar Associates, focusing on the firm's ability to offer impartial ratings on mutual funds to clients when it also sells them other services.

The SEC also notified Chicago-based Morningstar in December that it had opened a similar investigation into Morningstar Associates, the company said.

Morningstar spokeswoman Margaret Kirch Cohen declined to comment Tuesday on the investigations, noting that the company remains in the "quiet period" surrounding its May 3 initial public offering.

Along with the SEC's investigation into Morningstar's consulting unit, the regulatory agency has been looking into Morningstar for its failure to properly correct inaccurate data it published a year ago about the mutual fund, Rock Canyon Top Flight Fund. The SEC's enforcement division told the company in a letter last May that it intended to recommend the agency take legal action for an alleged violation of U.S. securities laws.

The company said in an April regulatory filing that it had settlement talks with the SEC, but was unable to reach an agreement.

Morningstar shares fell 27 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $23.06 Tuesday on the Nasdaq Stock Market, before the company announced the subpoena. The shares closed at $20.35 on their first day of trading.

Copyright © 2005 Associated Press

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