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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Johnson Names Successor CEOs

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

After nearly half a century, there have been changes at the top at Franklin Resources. Charles Johnson, CEO of the San Mateo, California-based firm is stepping aside after 46 years at the top of the firm. Rather than keep the reins wholly in the hands of family members, Johnson said that Martin Flanagan will share the CEO title with Gregory Johnson starting January 1, 2004.

The move is not a surprise and is part of an orderly succession being planned by the 70-year-old CEO. Both Flanagan and Gregory Johnson (who is the Charles' son) already had shared the title of co-president since 1999. The elder Johnson will remain as chairman of the company. He also continues to own 17.7 percent of the fund holding company. That stake is worth some $2.1 billion.

Both of the new co-CEOs are of a similar age. At 43, Flanagan is a year older than the 42-year-old Greg Johnson.

"These appointments are a natural evolution for Greg Johnson and Marty Flanagan and a recognition of a co-presidency that has worked extremely well," said Charles Johnson. "As co-CEOs, Greg and Marty will share overall responsibility for leading the organization and continue to lead day-to-day business operations. As chairman, I will continue to provide oversight and guidance to the organization."

While the Johnsons are one of the most successful families in the fund business, they are widely known as "the other Johnsons" or the California Johnsons. The monikers acknowledge the hefty stake a different, unrelated Johnson family owns in Fidelity Investments. That Boston-based firm is majority-owned by Edward "Ned" Johnson and his daughter Abigail.

As at Franklin Resources where Flanagan oversees day-to-day operations and Greg Johnson is the likely heir by dint of his family ownership stake, Fidelity's Ned Johnson has set up a power sharing arrangement among potential successors. Daughter Abigail is thought to be his likely successor while the Robert Reynolds, vice chairman and chief operating officer at Fidelity. Reynolds is seen by some as a dark horse contender for the top spot when Ned eventually retires.  

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