Barron’s April 9 cover story explores the tough spot local asset management company Legg Mason finds itself in following years of lackluster performance. The story interviews current CEO Mark Fetting, retired CEO Chip Mason as well as investors, large shareholders, affiliate heads and others to see what the company needs to do to turn itself around.
TENSIONS ARE HIGH at Legg. And no matter how far-flung or independent the affiliates are, it’s clear everyone is weary of talking about what went wrong, and reticent about discussing relationships with the parent company — at times to the point of obfuscation. By and large, the fund families that Legg Mason owns are still premium brands that are struggling, but shouldn’t be written off. The CEOs are frank in discussing their firms, but as soon as the conversation turns to the parent company, words are chosen much more carefully, body language becomes awkward, and faces go poker.