With a number of items on his "turnaround todo list" accomplished, Legg Mason CEO Mark Fetting told Wall Street Journal Fund Track
reporter Daisy Maxey that he sees light at the end of the tunnel. As the first non-Mason to lead the Baltimore-based Legg Mason [see profile
], Fetting drew the short straw of stepping into the top job at the time when a turnaround was needed.
| Mark Fetting |
"It's premature to declare a successful turnaround," Fetting told Maxey, but he assured that Legg Mason is "right on the cusp."
Fetting also characterized investor Nelson Peltz
, who joined Legg Mason's board of directors after his Trian Fund Management took a 6.8 percent stake in the publicly-traded company, as a "constructive presence" on Legg's board.
Fetting's optimism comes he has led an effort to cut expenses in Legg Mason's mutual funds and bolster the investment performance of its portfolio management teams. The last leg of the three-part effort will be to staunch the outflows that have plagued the firm since 2006.
Even there, Fetting tells the paper that the firm is making results. Legg Mason reported net inflows into its equity funds for the first quarter (after four years of quarterly outflows). Much of the remaining outflows are in fixed income and money market funds that generate lower fees for Legg Mason.
Fetting also told the paper that the asset manager is planning another $100 million of stock buybacks this year depending on the market and how Legg Mason performs. The board authorized up to $1 billion of buybacks and so far it has followed through on $300 million of purchases.
Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief
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