John Mack’s Big NightThe Morgan Stanley CEO is hosting an important dinner for investors in London tonight.
Who’s Vivi Nevo?We’re still not totally sure, but it sure is fun to say his name.
Eyebrows Are Raised Over Morgan StanleyMorgan Stanley CEO John Mack grapples with plummeting profits and a rogue trader, a summer associate messes with the wrong guy at the company picnic, and Rachael Ray buys in the Hamptons, in our daily roundup of finance, law, media, and real-estate news.
There Goes the SchneighborhoodRichard Gere has put his apartment in Julian Schnabel’s Palazzo Chupi on the market, private-equity execs come down to earth, Sam Zell continues to be wacky, and Jeff Zucker and Harvey Weinstein fight like a couple of queens over ‘Project Runway’ in our daily roundup of real-estate, finance, media and law news.
New York Public Library Lions to Become Schwarzman’s KittensFINANCE
• As Blackstone’s profit sinks 89 percent, Stephen Schwartzman gets the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street named after him. The naming rights came with a very generous $100 million donation, but we’re not sure we’re ready to go have lunch on the lovely steps of “Schwarzman.” It’ll feel like we’re an undergrad at Penn or something. [NYT]
• Wall Street says “There is a God” as its longtime persecutor, Eliot Spitzer, falls from grace. [NYT]
• Lehman Brothers, the largest underwriter of U.S. mortgage bonds, plans to lay off 5 percent of its workforce, which is about 1,400 people. Meanwhile, Bear Sterns, the second-biggest underwriter of mortgage bonds, lost more than $1.3 billion in market value yesterday as investors worried about the firm’s liquidity. [NYP, NYP]
Things Get Shakier For Morgan Stanley CEO John MackWhen Morgan Stanley took a $9.4 billion write-down this past December, people were clamoring for chairman and CEO John Mack’s head. “He’s a chronic destroyer of value,” a retired Morgan Stanley analyst said at the time. Surprisingly, he kept his job, even as the battered bodies of chief executives at other Wall Street firms that took major write-downs fell around him.
But now CtW Investment Group, a shareholder activist group, is throwing its $1.4 trillion weight behind a campaign to persuade Morgan Stanley investors to withhold their votes for Mr. Mack, at least as chairman, and vote in an independent chairman. “The argument for John Mack stepping down as chairman is pretty strong right now,” William Patterson, the group’s executive director, told the Times. “Everything we have seen suggests that this board is excessively protective of its C.E.O. The losses that Morgan Stanley took and the risk were unwarranted.”
According to the Times, CtW isn’t saying that Mack should leave the board or resign from his job as CEO, and their proposal isn’t binding. Plus, the board is still behind Mack. “We are comfortable with John Mack’s role as both C.E.O. and chairman of Morgan Stanley,” the board’s spokesperson told the Times. Oh, no. They’re comfortable with him? This is worse than we thought. The road to resignation is always paved with declarations of support.
Morgan Stanley Chief Grappling With New Risk [NYT]
Earlier: Morgan Stanley Loses $9.4 Bil; Mack Gets Knifed
Imus Sucker Punches BrokawMEDIA
• Don Imus on Tom Brokaw: “He is not the most courageous person I’ve ever met in my life. He’s not the guy I’d want to be in a foxhole with.” You see, Brokaw didn’t defend Imus when he was down-and-out because of the whole “nappy-headed-hos” incident. Resentment, now that takes courage! [NYP]
• Shocker: CNBC is actually scared shitless of Fox Business News. They’re now asking guests to choose sides, threatening to drop them if they dare to appear on Murdoch’s new down-home network. [Silicon Alley Insider]
• Veteran literary agent Lynn Nesbit wants a new publishing madman: “Even [former Simon & Schuster CEO] Dick Synder is a lot more colorful than [newly departed Simon & Schuster CEO] Jack Romanos, who is now gone. I mean, they had passion, they cared about literature. Even Dick, who’s not an intellectual. He cared. He was a madman … . Who is a madman now in publishing? … It was just different then.” Hi, Lynn, allow us to introduce you to our favorite publishing madwoman, Judith Regan. [Media Mob/NYO]
Morgan Stanley Loses $9.4 Bil; Mack Gets KnifedJohn Mack thought that by offing co-president Zoe Cruz last month, he himself might be spared the guillotine over Morgan Stanley’s mortgage-related losses. But lo, it is not so easy. It’s dark times out there on Wall Street; the cobblestones are stained with blood. And after Mack’s announcement yesterday that Morgan Stanley would be taking a $9.4 billion write-down, the people are clamoring for a new sacrifice, and the writing is on the wall for John Mack. Also, it’s in the papers.
“He’s a chronic destroyer of value,” Kevin Murphy, a retired Morgan Stanley airline analyst who recently sold his stock, told the Wall Street Journal today. “He’s a nice person, but you put this guy in the corner office and there’s an x factor where he hurts himself.”
Cayne & Co. Will Not Bogart the BonusesChristmas is a time for giving, and lest we forget, it is also a time for sacrifice. This year, James Cayne and the other top executives at Bear Stearns are making the ultimate sacrifice: They’ve decided to forgo their year-end bonuses. Because they have enough money? Because they decided to donate it to the children of Darfur? Because J.C. hit it big at bridge? Eh, no. Ostensibly this decision has come about because they’re gearing up to announce some pretty shameful fourth-quarter results tomorrow, and after losing $1.6 billion in investor money this year, pocketing what little is left would look kind of bad. So instead they’re divvying up the small pool left over from what they didn’t blow on subprime mortgages and giving it to players in the firm in hopes that they don’t jump over to, say, Goldman Sachs.
Bear Stearns Chiefs to Skip Bonuses [WSJ]
Update: It’s a trend! After announcing a $9.4 billion writedown, Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack is foregoing his bonus, too. Somewhere, Zoe Cruz is snickering.
John Mack Gives Zoe Cruz the Heave-hoFINANCE
• John Mack decided to can Zoe Cruz just three weeks after naming her as a strong potential successor at Morgan Stanley. Two execs, Walid Chammah and James Gorman, will take Cruz’s place as overseeing the firm’s trading and risk operations. [NYT]
• Eddie Lampert has lost quite a bit of his luster: The star investor sometimes mentioned as the heir to Warren Buffett lost millions on a big investment in Citigroup, and the earnings debacle at Sears is only making things worse. [Deal Journal/WSJ]
• A small local council in Scotland managed to trump the Donald’s $2 billion plan to build “the world’s greatest golf course.” It was just never clear on where Trump’s hair would fit in the course. [NYP]
Kate Middleton Quits Fashion — Soon to Be Engaged?FASHION
• Princely girlfriend Kate Middleton quit her job at fashion chain Jigsaw, sparking rumors of an imminent engagement! [British Vogue]
• Daria Werbowy is doing a line of makeup for Lancôme that benefits a Brazilian children’s charity. Hot and philanthropic? Sigh. [Fashionista]
• Surprise, surprise: This holiday shopping season is gonna suck for retailers. [NYT]
The Bancroft Family High Jinks: Ongoing!MEDIA
• The Bancrofts are so dysfunctional that they missed the deadline for choosing their representative to the new Dow Jones board. Murdoch then vetoed two family nominations before agreeing to Natalie Bancroft, a 27-year-old opera singer and journalism neophyte. Family member Crawford Hill concluded: “This entire, sad and pathetic final episode is a fiasco. No wonder we lost Dow Jones!!” [WSJ]
• With the Times hiring former sex writer Susan Dominus as the newest “Metro” columnist, will the section be heading toward the look of “Sunday Styles”? [NYO]
• Nora Ephron: Blogging makes us better writers. Hey Nora, can you call our boss? [Mixed Media/Portfolio]