Fetting Dismisses Talk of Going Private
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Fetting Dismisses Talk of Going Private

Just because Legg Mason has a new activist board member doesn't mean it's about to go private. On Thursday Legg chairman and CEO Mark Fetting told the Financial Times' Chrystia Freeland that the arrival of Nelson Peltz (and his Trian Fund Management) in the ranks of Legg's shareholders and board members does not mean big changes, like taking the company private. Meanwhile, Fetting offered some praise to tarnished stock picking titan Bill Miller of Legg Mason Capital Management.

Mark Fetting
Legg Mason
Chairman, CEO
"I think that that too [taking Legg Mason private] is a stretch, relative to what it would really take for that to be a good transaction for our existing shareholders and to rebuild," Fetting said.

Fetting also reiterated remarks he made last month, insisting that neither Peltz nor Legg overall wants to spin off subsidiaries like Western Asset Management Company.

As for Miller, Fetting confided that Legg Mason Capital Management "is on the cusp of positive flows" and added that he has "full confidence in Bill [Miller]."

"There are going to be periods where a contrarian investor like Bill [Miller], like Chuck [Royce], are going to have periods of under-performance and the question is, are they going to more than make up for that in terms of investing in situations where the intrinsic value is realised several years later," Fetting said. "Long term that batting average is very strong."

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