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Legg Mason shareholders approve acquisition by Franklin Templeton

Legg Mason shareholders voted Friday to approve the proposed $4.4 billion takeover of the Baltimore-based investment management firm by Franklin Templeton.

The vote occurred during a virtual shareholders meeting for Legg Mason. More than 99% for Legg Mason’s shareholders voted to approve the deal.

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The two money managers announced in February that San Mateo, California-based Franklin Templeton had agreed to pay $50 a share cash for all of Legg Mason’s stock. Franklin also will assume Legg Mason’s outstanding debt of about $2 billion as part of the deal.

By folding in the $763 billion managed by Legg Mason and its multiple affiliates as of April 30, Franklin Templeton will double to about $1.5 trillion in assets under management and cement the mutual fund giant’s position as one of the largest, independent global investment managers.

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“We are pleased to announce that our shareholders overwhelmingly support this transaction,” Legg Mason Chairman and CEO Joseph A. Sullivan said in a statement. “As we continue our planning to integrate our two great companies, I’m excited for the possibilities of a new organization that continues to prioritize our clients, the ongoing independence of our investment organizations and a broad distribution footprint.”

The companies expect the transaction to close during the third quarter, pending regulatory approval and other closing conditions.

What the deal means for Baltimore, where Legg Mason traces its roots to 1899, is unclear. The company employs about 250 at its green-glass headquarters on the riverfront in Harbor Point, but Sullivan said there will be a loss of jobs in the city.

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