Legg Mason Bond Withdrawals Almost Over as Returns Improve, Fetting Says

Legg Mason Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Fetting said withdrawals at the money manager’s bond-fund unit are almost over as investment performance improves.

Withdrawals at the unit, which accounts for about 56 percent of the Baltimore-based firm’s assets, are coming to a “final conclusion,” Fetting said today at the Barclays Global Financial Services Conference in New York. “The performance improvement is profound,” he said.

At the end of June, more than 72 percent of assets at Legg Mason’s Western Asset Management unit were in funds with the two highest ratings of four and five stars from Chicago-based research firm Morningstar Inc., compared with 7 percent two years ago, Fetting said. Investors have pulled more than $250 billion from all Legg Mason funds since March 2008 as they lagged behind rivals, including $9.4 billion from bond funds in the three months ended June 30.

Legg Mason managed $656 billion as of Aug. 31. Its shares rose 38 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $28.91 at 9:53 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sree Vidya Bhaktavatsalam in Boston at sbhaktavatsa@bloomberg.net

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