Larry Lasser, the 18-year CEO of Putnam Investments, has agreed to resign, the firms parent company, Marsh & McLennan, announced this morning. He will be replaced by Charles Haldeman, now CEO and president. A.J.C. Smith becomes chairman. The news came as a result of an emergency board meeting early this morning.
Meanwhile, Richard Strong resigned as chairman of Strong Funds yesterday, on the eve of expected charges to be brought against him by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. However, Strong will remain chairman and chief executive of the fund complexs parent company, Strong Capital Management. The independent directors of the company issued a statement yesterday that they will look for an independent president to replace Strong and cooperate with David Ruder, a former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission who is serving as counsel to the firm. The new president will not report to Strong but to the independent directors.
For its part, Putnam has aligned with Barry Barbash, a partner with Shearman & Sterling who was once the director of the division of investment management at the SEC. Since the probe began, the stock of Putnams parent company has fallen 10%, costing shareholders billions of dollars. Meanwhile, a growing number of state pension funds have fired Putnam, following Massachusetts lead.
Charges are also set to continue this week, with both the SEC and Massachusetts regulators pressing market-timing charges against at least five former Prudential Securities brokers in the Boston office. The charges may come as early as tomorrow.