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Rating:Legg Mason Finds Acquisition Targets Few and  Far Between Not Rated 4.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, January 24, 2005

Legg Mason Finds Acquisition Targets Few and Far Between

Reported by Theresa Sim

Legg Mason continues to hunt for acquisitions to boost its international business, but it's just not finding much. The Baltimore-based asset manager's officers said that it is continuing to build out its international business organically as it waits for appropriate candidates.

"We've felt for some time that something somewhere somehow would appear…but for whatever reason…and I don't think it's because we're afraid to pull the trigger…we have not found anything that would have substantially helped us," said officers in an earnings call.

Of interest are firms that would add distribution capabilities in Europe and Asia, as well as "areas of managing money outside of the U.S.," said officers. Although they recognized that the list of potential for-sale companies is increasing, "at the moment I've got nothing that would change that" they said.

Although Legg Mason raised more than $280 million through an offering at the year's end, executives said that the money was not for shopping but that "we did not have enough street cash."

When questioned about future growth, Legg Mason executives pointed to a potential expansion of institutional money manager Western Asset Management's mutual fund business. Executives said that they "looked at, and talked about doing a lot more" about Western's fund business. So far, investors have been giving Western's business a "pretty good reception," said executives.

Quarter four results for the firm were positive. Assets under management at the year's end totaled $360.5 billion, up 16 percent from $311.0 billion at the end of the third quarter. The increase was due to $21.6 billion in net inflows, $22.5 billion in market appreciation and $5.4 billion in acquisition-related assets.

Of the $21.6 billion of inflows, Legg Mason officers estimated that fixed income flows accounted for two-thirds of total inflows.

Equity assets gained ground over fixed income assets in terms of total AUM, totaling 40.3 percent of total AUM versus 38.4 percent at the end of September.

By asset management division, mutual fund assets totaled $78.7 billion, up 13 percent from $69.6 billion at the end of September.  

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