Peltz's Trian Fund may push for changes at mutual fund Legg Mason

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Nelson Peltzs’ Trian Fund Management LP may push Legg Mason Inc. to implement changes to boost returns, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, the second time in 10 years that Trian has targeted the mutual fund company.

FILE PHOTO: Nelson Peltz founding partner of Trian Fund Management LP. speak at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The two sides have discussed cutting costs, the source said, and Legg Mason chairman, president and chief executive officer Joseph Sullivan said on an earnings call on Monday that the company plans to manage costs more effectively to improve profitability.

Legg Mason’s share price has fallen 15.5 percent in the last year. Ranked as one of the country’s 30 biggest mutual fund firms, the company reported $758 billion in assets under management at the end of the fiscal year, which ended in March, up from $754.1 billion a year earlier.

Like many other mutual fund firms, Legg Mason has been hit hard by investors’ shifting tastes for less expensive index funds offered by larger firms, including Vanguard Group.

Representatives for Trian and Legg Mason could either not be reached for comment or declined to comment.

Trian’s discussions with Legg Mason were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

It was not immediately clear whether Trian would resort to a proxy contest to push its demands or whether the two sides might find another resolution.

Peltz first set his sights on the Baltimore-based company ten years ago and ended up being offered a seat on the board, which he held until late 2014.

During Peltz’ tenure as a director, Legg Mason appointed Sullivan as CEO, replacing Mark Fetting who served for four years.

Earlier this year Trian stopped short of mounting a board challenge at PPG Industries Inc. after the U.S. paints and coatings company met some of Trian’s demands and announced new financial targets.

Trian’s largest investments are General Electric Co and Procter & Gamble, where the hedge fund has board seats.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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