leadership ranks is the reason its founder may leave the board of directors at the end of the year.

John C. Bogle will presumably step down at yearend because of the company's policy requiring directors to leave at age 70, said John Woerth, a company spokesman. Mr. Bogle turned 70 in May.

Media reports have suggested that he may be asked to retire as the result of a rift with John Brennan, the company's chairman.

But Mr. Woerth said the two men have been in accord on the major issues and decisions facing the company. And he said having Mr. Bogle retire would be nothing personal, noting that the policy has been in place for 30 years at Vanguard and its predecessor company.

The rule was kept in force even for the predecessor company's founder, Walter L. Morgan, who left the board of Wellington Management Co. at age 70 in 1970.

Mr. Woerth could not say whether board members are considering making an exception for Mr. Bogle. Vanguard's board is scheduled to meet in September.

Mr. Bogle, known for his criticisms of the high fees many of Vanguard's rivals charge, stepped down as chief executive in 1996 and as chairman last year after having hand-picked Mr. Brennan to be his successor. He is currently the company's senior chairman, a largely honorary title.

Based in Malvern, Pa., Vanguard is the nation's second-biggest mutual fund company, with nearly $500 billion of assets under management. --

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