Legg Mason Cutting 200 Jobs

BOSTON (Reuters) – Legg Mason Inc (LM.N) said on Friday it will cut nearly 200 jobs, or about 8 percent of the parent company, as part of $120 million in cost savings the U.S. asset manager has targeted to combat shrinking assets.

Legg joins a growing list of asset managers who have slashed nearly 4,000 jobs over the past few months as the worst financial crisis in 80 years has clobbered asset values and led to massive investor withdrawals from funds.

The cuts at the second-largest publicly traded U.S. asset manager could be in functions such as fund administration, legal and finance, Legg spokeswoman Mary Athridge said. They are part of $120 million in annualized corporate expense savings that Legg has targeted to be achieved by March 31.

The cuts are separate from the up to 50 job cuts announced in October by Legg’s affiliate, Legg Mason Capital Management (LMCM), she said. Fund manager Bill Miller is chairman and chief investment officer of LMCM.

Fidelity Investments, Janus Capital Group (JNS.N), MFS Investments, Putnam Investments and BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) are among U.S. asset managers that have announced job cuts. Fidelity is cutting nearly 3,000 jobs through early 2009.

Baltimore-based Legg Mason managed $842 billion in assets as of Sept. 30, which were down 9 percent in that quarter.

Legg shares were down 2.7 percent at $16.01 on Friday morning, in a weaker overall stock market. They recovered from being down as much 6.5 percent initially.

(Reporting by Muralikumar Anantharaman; Editing by Derek Caney)