Legg Mason will close small international equities unit

BOSTON Wed Aug 7, 2013 11:29am EDT

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BOSTON (Reuters) - Baltimore asset manager Legg Mason Inc said it plans to shut down an international equities investment unit, citing its small asset base of $500 million under management.

Legg Mason said it will wind down trading activities at its Esemplia unit, which has offices in London and Hong Kong, and return money to investors.

"Given the firm's small size, we believe this decision best serves both Esemplia's clients and LM's shareholders," spokeswoman Mary Athridge said in an emailed statement.

The move follows other steps to streamline Legg Mason taken by its Chief Executive Joseph Sullivan since he was named to the job permanently earlier this year. Last month, Sullivan said Legg Mason had sold back to managers its small Private Capital Management unit.

Legg Mason still plans to expand businesses that invest in international equities, Athridge said. She said Legg Mason will provide details on a possible financial impact of Esemplia's closure on the parent.

Athridge said 25 jobs "will be made redundant" by the closure of Esemplia, but those workers can apply for open positions. Esemplia head Jim Kandunias will stay to ensure an orderly closure in coming quarters, she said.

Legg Mason took over Esemplia as part of a broader deal with Citigroup Inc in 2005.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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