Jimmy Cayne is officially out at Bear Stearns, the company announced last night, and Alan D. Schwartz is in as the new CEO. Yesterday’s Times referred to Schwartz as “a smooth, discreet investment banker,” Portfolio today called him a “smooth dealmaker,” and former Time Warner head Richard Parsons says he’s “a smooth operator.” But other than the fact that he is, apparently, silky soft and hairless, what do we really know about Alan D. Schwartz?
• He was offered a contract to play professional baseball right out of high school, but went to Duke instead, “where he starred as a right-handed pitcher with a good fastball and slider,” his old coach told Reuters. “He was always eager to be the best. He never allowed anything to stop him from attempting to be that.”
• Then he injured his arm and turned to banking.
• He started at Bear in 1976 in the research department, became head of investment banking in 1985, and became president in 2001.
• He was tight with Warren J. Spector, the former head of Bear’s trading and bond-and-asset management business, who was predicted to be Cayne’s successor before Cayne sacked him over the summer.
• Unlike Cayne, who was one of the largest holders of the firm’s stock, Schwartz owns less than one percent of the company, which is part of the reason analysts expect him to be less hotheaded about deals.
• Also, he’s just cool like that. When advising Michael Eisner on Disney’s acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC in 1996, he told him, “Stay cool. Stay calm. Don’t overreact.”
• And very polite: “Even when Alan was annoyed, he was polite about it,” a former colleague told Reuters. He recalled how one time a trader was bouncing a basketball off a wall that adjoined Schwartz’s office. “He came out of his office and calmly said, ‘Do you suppose you could keep the basketball on the ground?’” Ehrlich recalled.
• “He understands shareholders. He understands corporate governance,” Eisner told Reuters. “He has a good twinkle in his eye for the future.”