Legg Mason Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Raymond “Chip” Mason said the firm expects to announce its new chief executive officer in the “reasonably near future.”

Mason said at the Merrill Lynch Financial Services conference Tuesday in New York that its CEO search was moving along as planned.

Mason, 70, had announced he would retire at the end of this year, but he agreed to remain CEO after James W. Hirschmann III, the firm’s president and chief operating officer, who was expected to succeed him as chief executive, said in April that he did not want the job.

Hirschmann, who had been president and COO for less than a year, remained the CEO of Western Asset Management in Pasadena, Calif., Legg’s largest subsidiary.

Legg said in April that it expected Mason to resume the role of president and lead the company for at least two more years, during which he and Legg’s board would look for his successor.

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