Legg Mason Rises on Report of Interest From Buyout Firms

Legg Mason Inc., the money manager searching for a new chief executive officer, rose the most in four months after a report said two buyout firms have shown an interest in taking it private.

Legg Mason climbed 3.2 percent to $26.84, the biggest gain since Sept. 11, after Reuters said today that two large private-equity investors showed interest in financing a buyout led by the Baltimore-based firm’s largest affiliates. Legg Mason’s board has refused to engage in discussions about a sale, said Reuters, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the matter.

Mary Athridge, a spokeswoman for Legg Mason, declined to comment on the report.

The company is in transition, following the departure of Chief Executive Officer Mark Fetting, who stepped down Oct. 1 amid pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz to improve performance and reverse redemptions. Joseph A. Sullivan, head of global distribution, is serving as interim CEO while the board looks for a permanent successor to Fetting.

The company’s largest bond affiliate is Western Asset Management Co., which is seeking more control of its fund sales, a person familiar with the matter said in November.

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