Legg Mason swings to loss on asset writedowns

Asset manager Legg Mason Inc said on Friday it swung to a quarterly loss due to charges for impaired assets, and reported continued outflows from its equity and bond funds.

Legg Mason reported a net loss of $453.9 million, or $3.45 per share, for the three months ended December 31, its third fiscal quarter. That compared with net income of $28.1 million, or 20 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

As it had forecast, Legg Mason's results included pretax charges of $734 million, or $508 million after taxes, to account for writing down the value of assets like fund management contracts and uncertainties such as its ongoing search for a new chief executive.

Assets under management fell to $648.9 billion from $650.7 billion at September 30. The decline was due to net client withdrawals of $7.5 billion, which was partially offset by market gains and other income of $5.7 billion.

During the quarter, equity outflows were $8.3 billion and bond outflows were $6.8 billion, while clients added $7.6 billion to liquidity products like money funds.

Legg Mason interim Chief Executive Joseph Sullivan called the results disappointing but said the company "made good progress on a number of strategic fronts" during the quarter, such as the purchase of London hedge fund firm Fauchier Partners.

The company is "committed to advancing our business strategy while the board continues the CEO search process," Sullivan said in a statement.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)