State Street Global Advisors hired Nuveen Investments to manage a suite of five municipal bond exchange-traded funds — plus a series of new funds the company expects to launch in the coming months.

Under the agreement, which takes effect today, Nuveen Asset Management will manage the assets for the SPDR Barclays Capital series of ETFs tracking a national municipal bond portfolio as well as a short-term and variable-rate debt obligation fund, and portfolios devoted to bonds in California and New York.

A spokesman for State Street confirmed the ETFs will still adhere to the same investment philosophy of seeking to replicate the performance of a target index.

Tim Ryan, who manages the portfolios for State Street, will join Nuveen Investments to help ensure a smooth transition. State Street filed a prospectus last month registering a dozen new ETFs, including funds devoted to high-yield municipals, Build America Bonds, and target-maturity funds from 2012 to 2021.

In the prospectus registering the new funds, Ryan is listed as a portfolio manager for each, along with either ­Jonathan Wilhelm, Daniel J. Close, or Steven M. Hlavin — all Nuveen fund managers.

In a statement, Anthony Rochte, senior managing director at State Street, said investors “will benefit from the combined intellectual capital of Nuveen and State Street Global Advisors.”

Nuveen manages $70 billion in municipals, but until now no ETFs. The State Street ETFs will be rebranded SPDR Nuveen municipal ETFs.

Municipal ETFs are hot. According to the Investment Company Institute, there were 28 funds dedicated to municipal bonds at the end of February — up from 15 at the beginning of 2009 and zero at the beginning of 2007.

The industry’s assets have grown 6.8% already this year, to $6.42 billion and have almost doubled since last May.

State Street/Nuveen, Invesco Powershares, BlackRock, Pacific Investment Management Co., Van Eck Global, and Grail Advisors/McDonnell Investment Management all manage muni ETFs.

ETFs at first sought to offer the same returns as a target index, offering exposure to an asset class rather than the expertise of a portfolio manager who is trying to beat the market.

A growing number of ETFs, though, are “actively managed,” meaning like a mutual fund they seek to beat their indexes rather than match them.

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