Legg Mason bulks up in Dublin for Brexit fund flexibility

Move to ensure retains ability to sell to EU clients

* No details on staff moves

* Dublin competing with Luxembourg for business

By Simon Jessop and Padraic Halpin

LONDON, March 10 (Reuters) - Asset manager Legg Mason is setting up a management company in Ireland to ensure it can still sell its funds to European Union clients after Britain leaves the bloc.

The U.S. group, which manages $713.8 billion through a number of independently managed affiliates, including Edinburgh-based Martin Currie, declined to say if any staff would move.

Legg Mason's decision to bulk up its Dublin operation, which was first reported by The Irish Times on Friday, comes as financial service firms which sell into the EU look to protect themselves should Britain's divorce turn fractious.

"Legg Mason has fund ranges that serve both the EU and the UK. The firm has a management company in the UK and will have one in Dublin to allow us flexibility to serve clients, as needed," it said in a statement.

"We are monitoring events closely, have a plan for each of our options in place and are able to make adjustments as necessary to serve their needs. As the outline of Brexit becomes clearer, we are well positioned to respond as needed to ensure we are ready to serve our clients."

While most large asset managers already had a management company in Dublin or Luxembourg, Europe's two other main hubs for fund services, a number of firms had used London as a base to sell into the bloc.

Among other firms to flag an intention to change its operational structure since Britain's June 23 vote on EU membership is M&G Investments, the fund arm of insurer Prudential, which said it would set up a fund platform in Luxembourg to sell to European retail clients. (Editing by Alexander Smith)

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