Legg Mason grew from an investment house in the Baltimore Stock Exchange at the turn of the 20th century into a dominant presence in the city’s once flourishing financial industry — and on its skyline.
Here is a timeline of key points in its history, leading up to its $4.5 billion acquisition by a California mutual fund giant Franklin Templeton announced Tuesday.
1899: The origins of Legg Mason can be traced to George Mackubin & Co., founded in the Baltimore Stock Exchange.
1949: After the departure of founder Mackubin, partner John C. Legg Jr. renames the company after himself.
1962: Raymond A. “Chip” Mason, who would go on to lead Legg Mason for four decades, founds Mason & Co. in Newport News, Virginia.
1970: Mason & Co. merges with Legg & Co. to become Legg Mason.
1983: Legg Mason goes public, raising about $14 million, about $36 million in today’s dollars.
1997: Legg Mason moves into its longtime home at 100 Light Street, then the headquarters of the United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company, and now known as the Transamerica Tower. It employs about 1,000 people on 17 floors of the 35-story tower.
2006: An unprecedented 15-year streak of beating the returns of the S&P 500 comes to an end for one of Legg’s top mutual funds, led by well-known stock-picker Bill Miller.
May 2008: Amid the budding Great Recession, Legg Mason suffers its first quarterly loss in 25 years as a public company.
October 2008: With 1,000 employees in the Baltimore region and more than 4,200 across the company, recession-related job cuts begin with about 50 layoffs at Legg Mason Capital Management, the division chaired by Miller. By the end of that year, other cuts including 8% of its back-office personnel leave the company’s work force at 900 in the Baltimore region and about 3,800 worldwide.
December 2008: Mason retires, handing over the reins to Mark R. Fetting.
April 2009: Legg Mason makes its first and only appearance in the Fortune 500, coming in at No. 500.
June 2009: Reports emerge that activist investor Nelson Peltz has acquired a 9% stake in Legg Mason. Peltz is known for targeting companies with strong brand names and assets that are considered to be underperforming.
September 2009: Legg completes its move of 550 downtown workers from Light Street to a new tower in Harbor East, where the company signed a 15-year lease in a deal seen as key to retaining the company’s headquarters in the city. Another 450 workers remain based in Owings Mills.
May 2010: More layoffs hit the company, with 250 jobs cut from Legg’s Baltimore-area work force.
September 2012: Fetting leaves the company months before expiration of an agreement with Peltz not to force a sale or merger. The company’s Baltimore work force is down to 430.
January 2013: Legg Mason announces plans to fold its once high-profile Legg Mason Capital Management unit, led by Miller, into its New York-based ClearBridge Investments subsidiary. The move is seen as a symbolic loss for the city, “the latest chapter in the sad saga of the steady decline of Baltimore’s once-vibrant financial community,” one local financial analyst told The Sun.
February 2013: Legg chooses insider Joseph A. Sullivan as its new CEO, quelling speculation that the money manager was then headed for a breakup. Later that year, the company names Dennis M. Kass, an independent director and former CEO, as its new chairman.
April 2016: Peltz’s firm sells off much of its stake in Legg Mason to a Singapore-based investment holding company, Shanda Group, which bought nearly 10% of Legg stock for $336.8 million. By the end of 2016, Shanda ups its stake to 15%. Legg’s local work force falls to 330 in Baltimore.
December 2016: Legg is bumped from the S&P 500, the stock market index that includes the largest companies in the world by market capitalization.
December 2017: After buying back shares from Shanda over several months, Legg buys the firm out of its stake.
May 2019: Legg cuts 12% of its work force, laying off 120 people in Baltimore, New York and Stamford, Connecticut. Sullivan said the reductions reflected a need “to be more efficient and effective, through innovation.”
February 2020: Legg Mason announces a $4.5 billion deal to be acquired by Franklin Templeton. It has a work force of about 250 people in Baltimore and 3,200 worldwide.
Baltimore Sun librarian Paul M. McCardell contributed to this report.