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James Goodnight

chairman, president & ceo, sas

James Goodnight, Chairman, President & CEO of SAS, addresses the Boston College Chief Executives' Club of Boston at the Wharf Room at the Boston Harbor Hotel.

More cuts possible, says Fidelity chairman

Fidelity's Edward "Ned" Johnson yesterday refused to rule out more layoffs as the Boston mutual-fund giant grapples with a "difficult period" because of the global financial crisis.

Last month, Fidelity announced a total of 3,000 layoffs at the company, or 7 percent of its workforce, amid market woes.

Johnson, chairman of the privately held Fidelity, said he sees the problems persisting through 2009.

"It's going to be a difficult period because of the lower equity prices" and fund redemptions, Johnson said in a brief interview after a Boston College Chief Executives' Club luncheon at the Boston Harbor Hotel.

Mr. Goodnight and Mr. Johnson converse prior to the speakers' remarks.


Asked if more layoffs are possible beyond those already announced, Johnson replied, "We never know.  You tell us how the market is going to go."

Johnson declined to say when he thought the financial turmoil might subside, but he predicted "next year" will be rough.

Johnson, sitting at the head table at yesterday's luncheon, took some playful ribbing from the featured speaker, James Goodnight, chief executive of software giant SAS. Goodnight joked at one point during a question-and-answer period that Johnson hasn't exactly had a "stellar" year- a remark that evoked loud laughter and also shocked some in the audience, considering Johnson's iconic status in Boston.

Clockwise, left to right:  Ned Johnson (Chairman, Fidelity Investments), Charles Baker (President & CEO, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care), Robert Kraft (Owner, New England Patriots), James Conway (Chairman, President & CEO, Courier Corporation), David Barrett (President & CEO, Lahey Clinic), Fr. Donald Monan (Chancellor, Boston College), Thomas Hynes (Chairman & CEO, Meredith & Grew), Joseph Petrowski (CEO, Cumberland Farms), Mike Sheehan (CEO, Hill Holliday), Robert Popeo (Chairman, Mintz Levin)

Yesterday, Fidelity announced it was reopening its Contrafund and Low-Priced Stock Fund, partially because of asset losses tied to stock-market dives and redemptions.

Jim Lowell, editor of the independent Fidelity Investor, said Fidelity was making a smart move, especially since the two funds' mmanagers, Will Danoff and Joel Tillinghas, are considered "battle-tested veterans" who perform well in bear markets.

Boston Herald
Article by Jay Fitzgerald
Wednesday, December 3, 2008