Veteran investor Martin Whitman will relinquish his role as Third Avenue Management LLC's co-chief investment officer, the company said on Monday.

Whitman's protege Curtis Jensen will be Third Avenue's sole investment chief, effective immediately, a spokesman said.

The company gave no reason for the change and said Whitman would not comment. Whitman, 85, will remain co-manager of the Third Avenue Value Fund.

Third Avenue, which Whitman founded in 1986, posted total returns of 8.82 percent for the 10 years ended on December 31, beating all but 26 of more than 600 mutual fund firms tracked by Lipper, a Thomson Reuters company.

Jensen does not plan changes in how the company manages its portfolios, which hold $16 billion in assets.

We intend to continue our long-term practice of following the philosophy that Marty created, Jensen said.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston and Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Anshuman Daga, Tim Dobbyn and Robert MacMillan))