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True to his name, general counsel of Janus Capital Group Tom Early has decided to retire from his position in May, at 49. Early was not available for an interview. Blair Johnson, a spokesman for the mutual funds company, says that Early’s departure was prompted by the triggering of certain “contractual rights in his employment agreement.” These rights entitled him to about three times the sum of his salary and bonus for the previous year should his “authority, duties, or responsibilities” be “materially diminished.” According to Johnson, Early’s 2003 salary was $395,000. In its most recent quarterly report, Janus reported an anticipated charge of approximately $7.6 million during the first quarter of 2004, in part resulting from Early’s departure. Early pulls the rip cord on his golden parachute at a time when the Denver-based company is under investigation by a battery of securities regulators, including the attorneys general and auditors of Colorado and West Virginia and the Securities and Exchange Commission. These investigations were prompted by the now infamous complaint filed by New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer against Canary Capital Partners in September 2003. That action accused several mutual fund families of trading irregularities. According to another Janus spokesperson, Jane Ingalls, the complaint’s allegations against Janus involve so-called frequent trading agreements. Although such arrangements are legal, they allow large investors to trade more frequently than other investors, thereby diluting long-term shareholders’ returns. Johnson says Early’s departure is not related to the investigations of Janus’s mutual fund practices. The company recently decided to have certain compliance departments report to Janus’s chief operating officer, rather than through the legal department. According to Johnson, this change triggered the GC’s contractual rights. The company initiated a search for Early’s successor in February.

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