Legg's Western Asset investment chief to retire in 2014

Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:00pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Legg Mason Inc's Western Asset Management unit said on Thursday that Chief Investment Officer Steve Walsh will retire in March of next year.

Western Asset, the fixed-income division of Baltimore-based fund firm Legg Mason, said Ken Leech will become CIO effective March 31, 2014. Leech was previously the firm's CIO from 1998 to 2008, and after a medical leave returned to lead Western's global investment strategy committee.

Walsh was named CIO in 2008, in the midst of a period of underperformance for many of Western's funds. Their records have improved in recent years.

Walsh, 54 years old, will retire for personal reasons, to become more involved in family and charity work, said Western Chief Executive James Hirschmann in a telephone interview.

Walsh and Leech will be co-CIOs for the next twelve months. Leech, 58 years old, will remain based at Western's headquarters in Pasadena, California, where he and Walsh have been longtime collaborators, Hirschmann said.

"Ken and Steve have sat next to each other for the past 23 years, so they are very much of the same philosophical approach to investing," Hirschmann said.

(Reporting By Ross Kerber; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and David Gregorio)

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