Canada's Provincial Credit Union Centrals and Desjardins Group Join Forces to Increase Growth of The Ethical Funds Company and Northwest Mutual Funds Inc.

    New partnership is poised to become one of the fastest growing mutual
    fund companies in the country

    MONTREAL, TORONTO AND VANCOUVER, Sept. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's
Provincial Credit Union Centrals and Desjardins Group announce the creation of
a strategic partnership aimed at increasing the growth rate of The Ethical
Funds Company (Ethical Funds(R)) and Northwest Mutual Funds Inc. (Northwest
Funds) through enhanced distribution of their products.
    The partnership creates a national investment firm with $5.5 billion in
assets under management, poised to become one of the fastest growing mutual
fund companies in the country. Northwest Funds and Ethical Funds will be owned
50% by the Provincial Credit Union Centrals and 50% by Desjardins Group. 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.
    The management team of the combined fund company will be formed with
executives from Ethical Funds and Northwest Funds. Ethical Funds' President
and CEO Don Rolfe will act as Chief Executive Officer and Northwest Funds'
President and COO Michael Butler will act as its Chief Operating Officer.
    "Desjardins Group wholeheartedly supports this opportunity to create a
strong, jointly beneficial partnership with the Canadian credit unions. This
is another step towards creating a stronger financial cooperative movement in
Canada. Furthermore, our cooperative and sustainable development values are
well aligned and we see this as a unique opportunity to foster additional
growth for Northwest," says Alban D'Amours, President and CEO of Desjardins
    "This partnership enhances the opportunity for Ethical Funds to
accelerate growth, while retaining its distinctive brand and investment
objectives," says Allan Morin, Chair of The Ethical Funds Company. "As a
result, Ethical Funds will become an even stronger champion for the principles
of socially responsible investing and shareholder action."

    A new, unique offering to Canadian investors

    "Ethical Funds is extremely pleased to be partnering with such well
established firms as Desjardins and Northwest," says Don Rolfe, President and
CEO of Ethical Funds. "We share common and unique commitments towards
fostering sustainability and assisting Canadians in achieving their financial
aspirations. This is a great opportunity and we are all committed to its
    "Northwest Mutual Funds sees great potential in the SRI category, and
this partnership will allow us to broaden our product lines and maintain our
focus on better returns with less risk for unitholders. This partnership will
lead to increased financial strength and better competitive positioning for
both fund families," says Northwest Funds' President and COO Michael Butler.
    Ethical Funds and Northwest Funds unitholders, as well as the caisses
populaires, credit union and independent advisor networks stand to benefit
from a larger team of investment managers with excellent track records for
creating long-term growth. It is also anticipated that economies of scale
generated by the common management of both fund families on one technological
platform will work to eventually lower management expense ratios for the
mutual funds.
    The head office of the new firm will be based in Toronto. Ethical Funds
will continue to be based in Vancouver and Northwest Funds in Toronto, with
both companies' existing sales teams remaining in place across the country.
    Desjardins Group and the Provincial Credit Union Centrals anticipate the
transaction will receive regulatory approval and close by the end of 2007.

    Ethical Funds

    The Ethical Funds Company is Canada's leading manager of socially
responsible mutual funds. Founded in 1992, Ethical Funds is owned by the
Provincial Credit Union Centrals and manages 26 funds with $2.67 billion in
assets as of August 31, 2007. Ethical Funds has established a strong track
record in SRI investing with its commitment to delivering performance as well
as giving investors a voice in encouraging sustainable business practices. To
find out more, visit

    Northwest Funds

    Northwest Mutual Funds Inc. was created in 1997, and acquired by
Desjardins Group in 2003. With $2.78 billion in assets under management as of
August 31, 2007, Northwest has become one of the fastest growing and best
performing mutual fund companies in the industry (IFIC), providing superior
customer service and exceptional portfolio management. To find out more, visit

    The Canadian Credit Unions

    Canada's Provincial Credit Union Centrals of British Columbia, Alberta,
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward
Island collectively own 100% of The Ethical Funds Company. They also own 50%
of Credential Financial Inc., which distributes Ethical Funds through member
credit unions. The Provincial Credit Union Centrals represent ownership by
more than 400 credit unions across the country with assets totaling
$99 billion as of June 30, 2007. To find out more, visit

    About Desjardins Group

    Desjardins Group is the largest integrated cooperative financial group in
Canada, with overall assets of more than $143 billion, as of June 30, 2007. It
comprises a network of caisses, credit unions and business centres in Québec
and Ontario, and some twenty subsidiary companies in life and general
insurance, securities brokerage, venture capital and asset management, many of
which are active across the country. Drawing on the expertise of its 40,000
employees and the commitment of 7,020 elected officers, Desjardins offers its
5.8 million individual and corporate members and clients a full range of
financial products and services. Its physical distribution network is
complemented by leading virtual access methods. To find out more, visit

For further information:

For further information: Contacts (for media only): For interviews with
a Desjardins spokesperson: André Chapleau, Director, Information and Media
Relations, (514) 281-7229, 1-866-866-7000, ext. 7229,; For interviews with a Northwest Funds
spokesperson: Annette Yuen, (416) 640-5525, ext. 231, Cell.: (416) 629-0248,; For interviews with an Ethical Funds spokesperson or
a Provincial Credit Union Central spokesperson: Jane Mitchell, (604) 714-3843,
Cell.: (604) 763-7665,

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