Legg Mason official to retire Curley, vice chairman and chief administrator, served firm 16 years

Investing

January 16, 1998|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

John F. Curley Jr., Legg Mason Inc.'s vice chairman and chief administrative officer, said yesterday he will retire next month, about 16 years after he joined the Baltimore-based brokerage and money management firm.

Curley, who oversees hundreds of Legg Mason employees, said he has talked about retiring for the past 18 months.

"It is fairly simple. I have been in the business 34 years and I decided about a year and a half ago that I would like to do some other things," said Curley, 59. "I am going to relax for a while."

Curley, who is also a director of the company, will likely give up his board seat, but he will continue to serve as chairman of the board of Legg Mason's family of mutual funds, he said.

"We will miss him, without question," said Raymond A. "Chip" Mason, chairman and chief executive of Legg Mason. "He will be very tough to replace."

James W. Brinkley, president of Legg Mason's brokerage subsidiary, Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc., said Curley's job will likely be spread among several people.

"We are still working on that," he said.

As chief administrative officer, Curley has been responsible for hundreds of employees who work in finance, technology, and administration.

He is credited with helping Legg build its highly regarded family of mutual funds, and spearheading the company's multimillion dollar upgrade of its computer and data processing systems over the past 15 months.

But his biggest role has been freeing up Mason and others to plot Legg's strategy. While Mason is seen as the deal maker and strategic thinker, Curley is "Mr. Inside."

"He is probably the best detail person that I have ever seen," Mason said. "From my standpoint, Jack was the watchdog, making sure the conscience was straight, and the things we said we were going to do we were doing."

"There wasn't anything that got by him," added Edward A. Taber III, a senior executive vice president at Legg. "He would cover the area with absolutely astounding detailed oversight and precision."

Curley has been involved in everything from the company's recent headquarters move to overseeing production of Legg's annual report.

"If there was a typo, or anything that was missed by four people, Jack would catch it, and this was somebody who had his arms around the big picture," Taber said.

Curley, a Baltimore County resident, has been well compensated for his efforts. Last year, he received a base salary of $210,000 and a $1 million bonus.

Curley joined Legg in 1982 from PaineWebber Inc. where he was chairman of the New York-based brokerage firm's finance committee, and president of its $6 billion money market fund. Prior to that, he was president of PaineWebber's brokerage company.

"When they brought in Jack, they brought in a New York-trained, savvy investment banker," said George D. Edwards 2nd, a Baltimore-based management consultant. "He had numerous high-level contacts throughout the country." Mason said he had discussions with Curley about his retirement well over a year ago. Curley wanted to stay on until the computer and data processing upgrade was completed.

"Jack just may be smarter than all of us and do the things people never save the time to do," Mason said.

Pub Date: 1/16/98

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