Bhatia and Sontag had been managers of the $1.6 billion Strong Government Securities Fund, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The fund is one of the largest and better performing funds at Strong, which has been battered by mediocre performance and its involvement in the trading scandals, said Scott Berry, Morningstar analyst.
The Government Securities Fund will be managed by Jay Mueller, director of taxable fixed-income and manager Frank Koster, who has been with Strong since 1999. Mueller and Koster referred calls to spokesman Drew Wineland, who confirmed the move. Bhatia, Sontag and Bonnell could not be reached for comment. Bhatia also co-managed the Strong Advisor Bond Fund with Tom Price, director of corporate fixed-income. Price and Koster will both manage the fund. In addition, Sontag managed the Strong Advisor Short Bond Fund and the Strong Ultra Short Income portfolios with Price, who will now also be co-managing the two funds with Mueller.
Bonnell, who managed the Florida Muncipal Money Market, Municipal Money Market and Tax Free Money Market funds, will be replaced by managers Duane McAllister and Wendy Casetta. McAllister said Strongs sale will determine the long-term decisions that will be made on the bond team.