Legg Mason û which is among the worldÆs largest fund management companies with nearly close to $1 trillion in assets under management (AUM) worldwide û has named Ronald Dewhurst as senior managing director and head of international asset management.

In the new role, Dewhurst will become a senior member of Legg MasonÆs management team and will focus on accelerating the expansion of the firmÆs business outside the US. He will be responsible for planning and executing Legg MasonÆs global growth strategy and will be working with the firmÆs investment subsidiaries and distribution units throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Joining Legg Mason on February 11, Dewhurst will be shuttling among the firmÆs offices in London, Melbourne and Australia.

Dewhurst joins Legg Mason from I00F, an investment management company in Australia, where he was CEO from 2004 to 2007. Prior to that, he held various positions at JPMorgan Investment Management and JPMorgan Fleming Asset Management from 1993 to 2002 including head of Asian equities in Hong Kong, head of European equities in London, and head of the Americas in New York. He was also a member of the JPMorgan global committee for private banking and asset management.

The appointment is in line with Legg MasonÆs push to expand globally, which is among the firmÆs key priorities at the moment.

ôI believe that we can build upon the solid base we have in our existing distribution business to penetrate new markets that represent profitable growth,ö says Legg Mason president and CEO Mark Fetting. ôMany of our subsidiaries have already begun to expand their global business.ö

Within Asia, Legg Mason has identified Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore as its major growth markets in the coming years. The group has an existing platform in Asia acquired from Citigroup Asset Management in 2005.

DewhurstÆs appointment will help the firm capture more value in markets where it is already present and extend its reach to new markets, Fetting says.

Fetting himself was appointed to his current post only on 28 January. He took over from Raymond Mason û the firmÆs co-founder and long-time chairman, president and chief executive officer û who remains its non-executive chairman.

Fetting, who joined Legg Mason in 2000, was most recently responsible for the firmÆs worldwide mutual fund and managed account businesses as senior executive vice-president. A 29-year veteran of the investment management industry, Fetting has served in key strategic and operating roles and was instrumental since he joined the firm in the acquisitions that transformed Legg Mason from a regional securities firm into one of the largest asset managers in the world.

Harold Adams, an independent director at Legg Mason who chaired the boardÆs president and CEO search committee, notes that the firm expects Fetting to ôdrive the growth of the company on a global scaleö.

Legg MasonÆs AUM declined to $998.5 billion in December 31 û down $13.1 billion, or 1% û from $1.01 trillion in September 30. There were net client cash outflows of $9.1 billion in the December quarter and market depreciation of $4.0 billion. Equity outflows were $10.6 billion and liquidity outflows were $0.5 billion, while fixed income recorded inflows of $2.0 billion for the quarter.

As of December 31, equity products made up 32% of the total AUM, fixed income accounted for 52% and liquidity represented 16%. By business division, 53% of total AUM was in institutional funds, 40% in managed investments and 7% in wealth management. Assets managed for non-US domiciled clients make up around 34% of total AUM.

Legg Mason is headquartered in Baltimore. It wholly owns eight asset specialists û Legg Mason Capital Management, Western Asset Management, Private Capital Management, Royce & Associates, Brandywine Global Investment Management, ClearBridge Advisors, Permal and Batterymarch Financial Management.