Legg Mason has announced that Mark R. Fetting, Chairman and CEO, has decided to step down effective October 1, and will remain as a consultant to the company through year end.

Lead Independent Director W. Allen Reed will become Non-Executive Chairman and Joseph A. (Joe) Sullivan, Head of Global Distribution, will become Interim Chief Executive Officer while the Board conducts a search for a permanent CEO. The Board has formed a search committee to consider both internal and external candidates and will be engaging a leading executive search firm to assist with the process.

Mark Fetting said, ‘The opportunity to lead Legg Mason through a crucial period of its history has been both challenging and fulfilling. I am very proud of our progress and accomplishments during the past five years. Now is the right time for new leadership to take the baton and continue to move the Company forward into its next phase of growth and development. I look forward to assisting Allen and Joe as we work to ensure a smooth transition’.

Allen Reed said, ‘Since early 2008, Mark Fetting has led Legg Mason through a very challenging period of turmoil in the global financial markets and major changes in the asset management industry. During this period, he has been instrumental in reducing the company’s cost structure, improving its balance sheet and liquidity, and positioning the company for future growth. On behalf of the entire Board, I want to thank Mark for his dedication and his many contributions to Legg Mason. As we conduct an expeditious and thorough search for a new CEO, the Board is confident that Joe Sullivan, Head of Global Distribution and a key member of the senior executive team, will provide the continuity of leadership to ensure that Legg Mason continues to meet the needs of its clients, affiliates and shareholders’.

Sullivan has over three decades of experience in the investment management and capital markets industry. He has served as Head of Global Distribution at Legg Mason since December, 2010 and was Chief Administrative Officer from September, 2008 to December, 2010. From 2005 to 2008, he served on the Board of Directors of Stifel Financial and was Head of Fixed Income Capital Markets at Stifel Nicolaus, following its purchase of this business from Legg Mason. Previously, he held senior positions at Legg Mason Wood Walker, Dain Bosworth and Piper Jaffray.

W. Allen Reed has been a director of Legg Mason since 2006. He previously served as Chairman, President and CEO of General Motors Asset Management Corporation and Chairman and CEO of General Motors Trust Bank, N.A. Mr. Reed has more than 35 years of experience in the asset management industry, having served as the financial officer responsible for employee benefit fund investments at General Motors, Delta Air Lines and Hughes Electronics.