Legg Mason Inc. announced management changes yesterday that are designed to give key executives more seasoning as the company contemplates the eventual retirement of its 67-year-old chief executive.
Legg is riding the bull market to record profits and increasing its assets under management as investors pour money back into equities. The company ended last year with a record $264.9 billion under management, 43 percent more than in the previous year.
Mark R. Fetting, who joined the company in June 2000 as a senior adviser focusing on strategy and acquisitions, was appointed president of Legg Mason asset management, a new position that will put him in charge of the Baltimore investment company's key profit centers. Legg has been steadily building fee income as part of a strategy to further insulate itself from market volatility.
All three of Legg's asset management divisions - mutual funds, wealth management and institutional asset management - will report to Fetting. Investment advisory fees soared to $326.5 million in the three months that ended Dec. 31, 51 percent more than in the 2002 quarter.
Timothy C. Scheve, president of Legg's brokerage unit, will add the title of chief executive. Scheve was promoted to president of Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. in August. Previously, he was Legg Mason Inc.'s chief administrative officer.
James W. Brinkley, who has been vice chairman and chief executive officer of the brokerage unit, will become its chairman as Scheve takes over the chief executive title.
A Legg spokeswoman said the changes are not evidence of a short-term succession plan for Raymond A. "Chip" Mason, who has been the company's chairman, president and chief executive since it was founded in 1981.
Rather, she said, Mason made the changes to give key managers more experience as part of longer-term planning for his eventual retirement. The company gave no indication of when that might occur.
"What Chip is doing is expanding and cross-training and broadening the depth of our senior executives in the firm," she said.
Before joining Legg, Fetting, 49, was president of retirement services for Prudential Financial Group from 1991 to 2000.
Scheve, 45, has been with Legg for 20 years, holding a series of management positions prior to his appointment as chief administrative officer in 1998. In August, he was promoted to president of Legg's brokerage unit at the same time Brinkley was promoted to vice chairman and chief executive of the division. Before joining Legg, Scheve spent three years working as a senior consultant for Price Waterhouse.
Shares of Legg Mason closed yesterday at $87.75, down 81 cents.