Legg Mason Inc., continuing its campaign to attract high-net-worth investors, is buying another money management firm that serves the wealthy.
Barrett Associates Inc., based in New York, oversees $2 billion in portfolios of high-net-worth individuals and institutions. It will be the fourth such firm acquired by Legg Mason, but the first that will be a subsidiary of Legg Mason Trust FSB. In September 1999, the Baltimore regional brokerage firm obtained a nationwide thrift charter allowing it to provide trust services.
The strategic vision is to diversify into the high-net-worth arena by providing a full range of financial services, said Jennifer Reynolds, vice chairman and chief investment officer of Legg Mason Trust.
In 1994, Legg Mason bought Gray, Siefert & Co. of New York. In 1996, it bought Cincinnati-based Bartlett & Co., and last year it bought Berkshire Asset Management Inc. of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Legg Mason has also been hunting for institutional money managers in Europe. Last December it bought the London retail fund manager Johnson Fry Holdings (subsequently renamed LeggMason Investors), and this May it bought Perigee Inc., a Canadian pension management firm. The company has said it is considering more purchases of European money managers for its institutional side.
Ms. Reynolds said that Barrett Associates will contribute investment and research capabilities to Legg Mason Trust. Barretts investment team will be combined with that of the trust company, which will adopt Barretts large-cap growth equity investment strategy, she said.
That doesnt preclude us from utilizing other Legg Mason affiliates, so we can really offer clients different [investment] disciplines, she added.
In addition, Legg Mason Trust will be able to cross-sell fiduciary and financial planning services to Barretts wealthy clientele, Ms. Reynolds said. Barretts average account size is about $4 million, she said.
Legg Mason manages about $135 billion of assets through its subsidiaries. Legg Mason Trust manages $4 billion.
Barrett Associates will keep its name. Its chairman and chief executive officer, John D. Barrett 2d, and nine other executives had signed long-term employment agreements and will remain in their current positions.
David Ross Palmer, a principal of LoBue Associates Inc., a financial services consulting firm in Northbrook, Ill., said that such acquisitions will help Legg Mason retain clients and add a selling point for new ones.
With banks and brokers acquiring high-net-worth advisers, regional firms like Legg Mason need to have those capabilities in-house to compete, Mr. Palmer said.
Under their deal, Legg Mason will buy 70% of Barrett Associates at a closing expected in early February and the rest in five years. The companies did not disclose the price.