MONTREAL, TORONTO and VANCOUVER — Canada's Provincial Credit Union Centrals and Desjardins Group have partnered to form a national mutual fund company with $5.5 billion in assets through two of the country's top investment firms.

Northwest Mutual Funds Inc. and The Ethical Funds Company will be owned 50% by the Provincial Credit Union Centrals and 50% by Desjardins Group, the largest integrated cooperative financial group in Canada with more than $143 billion in assets. The products of both companies will continue to be offered under their own corporate brands and through their existing networks. In addition they will also be promoted through the other partner's distribution network. Pending regulatory approval, the transaction is expected to close by the end of 2007.

The Ethical Funds Company is Canada's leading manager of socially responsible mutual funds with 26 funds and $2.67 billion in assets as of Aug. 31. Northwest Mutual Funds has $2.78 billion in assets under management as of Aug. 31.

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