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Legg Mason replaces Johnston as lead manager on UK emerging fund

Legg Mason Investors has replaced John Johnston as lead manager of

its ailing UK emerging growth fund in a bid to boost its flagging

performance.

Johnston took over the fund in October 2000 after leaving Murray

Johnstone, where he ran a smaller companies Oeic and two investment

trusts. He was expected to reverse the fund&#39s underperformance but

instead it has plummeted by 78.3 per cent under his charge against a

sector fall of 42.26 per cent, according to Lipper.

Legg Mason says Johnston&#39s removal was a consequence of the closure

of its Glasgow office from where the fund was managed but admits his

performance was a factor in the decision.

However, many IFAs have still put a sell note on the fund due to the

inexperience of Johnston&#39s replacement, Andrew Whalley, in running

growth funds. Johnston will continue to have some input in running

the fund.

Legg Mason Investments corporate communications manager Zoe Bur- ton

says: “The fund has been badly affected by the general downturn in

equity markets, mainly because the holdings are in small companies

with as yet unrealised earnings&#39 potential. However, it is well

positioned to benefit from any market upturn.”

Plan Invest joint managing director Mike Owen says: “The fund is

pretty high risk but Johnston&#39s performance has been abysmal. If he

ends up leaving Legg Mason I will not be following where he is going.”

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