Joseph A. Sullivan, senior executive vice president and head of global distribution, was named interim CEO while the Legg Mason board searches for a permanent replacement.
Terence Johnson, managing director and head of international distribution, will take over Mr. Sullivan's responsibilities on an interim basis, Ms. Athridge said in an e-mail. Lead independent director W. Allen Reed will become non-executive chairman.
The board has formed a search committee to consider internal and external candidates and will hire an executive search firm to assist. Ms. Athridge did not have specifics on which search firm will be hired.
The resignation was a mutual decision between Mr. Fetting and the board, Ms. Athridge said.
“This is about a fresh look at growth, within our affiliate model,” Ms. Athridge wrote in the e-mail. “In the past five years, Mark Fetting has led Legg Mason through a very challenging period of turmoil in the global financial markets and major changes in the asset management industry. During this period, Mark has been instrumental in dealing with the demands of the financial crisis, reducing Legg Mason's cost structure, improving its balance sheet and liquidity, and positioning the company for future growth.
Ms. Athridge said Mr. Fetting was not available for an interview.
Mr. Fetting will remain as a consultant to the company through the end of the year.
Mr. Sullivan has served as head of global distribution since December 2010 and was previously chief administrative officer at Legg Mason for the previous two years.