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Friday, March 22, 2013

Wamco's Walsh Will Step Aside

News summary by MFWire's editors

There will be a change of the guard at WAMCO over the next year.

Reuters reports that the firm's chief investment officer, Steve Walsh intends to retire in March 2014, and will be replaced by Ken Leech, according to a letter from chief executive James Hirschmann to clients Thursday. Walsh had served as CIO since 2008.

Over these 12-months until Walsh's retirement, both he and Leech will serve as co-CIOs of the Legg Mason fixed-income arm.

Leech, who was honored as Morningstar's Fixed-Income Manager of the Year in 2004, already has experience with this position, having previously held that role from 1998 to 2008. He currently serves as chairman of the global strategy committee looking over the firmís global bond portfolios.

This is only the latest high profile management change at Legg Mason, which after five years of mutual fund redemptions saw the departure of previous chief executive Mark Fetting, who was replaced after a five-month search by interim-CEO and global distribution chief Joseph Sullivan.

Wamco, with $461.9 billion of assets under management as of December 2012, accounts for more than two-thirds of the assets of Legg Mason, which has been under increasing pressure by commando investor Norm Peltz to to improve its earnings. However, the struggling asset manager recently downplayed talk of any potential buyouts.  

Edited by: Tommy Fernandez

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