John Mack Sets an Example

cityfile · 12/18/09 10:43AM

Credit where credit's due: Not every Wall Street chieftain is planning to take home home an eight-figure bonus at the end of the year. Outgoing Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack announced today that he is foregoing a bonus in 2009 for the third year in a row. "That makes him the first of the major banking chiefs to do so, at a time when many outside the industry are criticizing the probable return of outsized bonuses as these firms return to profitability." [NYT]

Washout in Washington

cityfile · 12/14/09 12:22PM

Change isn't easy. Just ask Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Morgan Stanley chief John Mack, both of whom were unable to personally attend a meeting with the president in Washington today after their US Airways flights were delayed because of "fog."

Happy Birthday

cityfile · 11/17/09 07:53AM

Two men turning 65 today whose glory days have long since passed: Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack, who has announced he'll step down as the firm's chief at the end of the year; and Saturday Night Live co-creator Lorne Michaels, who hasn't produced a season of SNL worth watching in years, but has yet to retire, unfortunately. Others celebrating another year today: Martin Scorsese is turning 67. Lauren Hutton turns 66. Howard Dean is 61. Danny DeVito is turning 65. RuPaul turns 49. Daisy Fuentes is 43. Diane Neal of Law & Order: SVU turns 34. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas is 65. House Minority Leader John Boehner is turning 60. And Isaac Hanson (of the Hanson brothers, yes) turns 29.

Extreme Makeover: Wall Street Edition!

cityfile · 10/21/09 12:46PM

Wall Street CEOs make a fortune, as you're undoubtedly aware. Even the chief executives of banks that have been bailed-out by Washington or have gone bust usually end up doing nicely. But despite the riches and perks these men have accumulated and massive egos they've developed along the way, few of them would do all that well in a beauty contest. Because it's high time that Wall Street take advantage of the miracle of modern science—and because we care, dammit—we took the liberty of contacting Dr. Anthony Youn, a board-certified plastic surgeon who has made appearances on Dr. 90210 and the Rachael Ray Show, to ask him what procedures he'd suggest these titans of finance consider if they want to look their very best. Dr. Youn's answers and cost estimates—and our commentary—is below.

Eating & Drinking: Friday Edition

cityfile · 09/11/09 03:30PM

Jonathan Benno, Per Se's acclaimed chef de cuisine, has confirmed his plans to move on: He'll be part-owner and executive chef at a new (and as-yet unnamed) restaurant under construction in the plaza of Lincoln Center. [NYT]
• Has Minetta Tavern stopped accepting reservations from people who don't happen to be close, personal friends of owner Keith McNally? [GS, Eater]
• If you don't have a credit or debit card, don't go to Commerce. As noted previously, it's one of the only NYC eateries where cash isn't welcome. [WSJ]
• The '21' Club auctions off 640 rare bottles of wine at Christie's tomorrow. [BN]
• Yet another cupcake bakery chain is planning to open its doors in NYC. [VV]

A Changing of the Guard at Morgan Stanley

cityfile · 09/11/09 10:29AM

John Mack announced plans to step down as Morgan Stanley's CEO at the end of the year. He'll won't be departing the bank entirely: Mack will become Morgan's chairman on January 1, and the chief executive role will be handed over to James Gorman, the former McKinsey consultant and Merrill Lynch exec who joined Morgan Stanley four years ago and now heads up the firm's brokerage business. Mack has been making plans to retire long before the financial crisis battered the bank. But the events of the past year certainly played a role in the change in power, and what sort of legacy Mack will leave behind remains an open question.

Lehman Brothers: The Movie

cityfile · 09/10/09 10:42AM

The movie about the fall of Lehman Brothers aired on the BBC last night. The Financial Times' Alphaville blog wasn't the least bit impressed with the "cringeworthingly hilarious" made-for-TV production. The "failed irony, bad acting and moral superiority," along with "overly earnest analogies to the movie Fight Club" and "a very sweaty OCD-obsessive clown-like Dick Fuld," gave it "the quality [of a] straight-to-video release," Izabella Kaminska reports. We'll leave it to you to decide how the filmmakers fared in terms of casting. From left to right: actor Henry Goodman as Morgan Stanley chief John Mack; and Michael Brandon as "brash tough-talking" JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Update: Dealbreaker has a clip of the movie here. [FT]

John Mack Picks Up East 70th Townhouse

cityfile · 09/04/09 07:02AM

• Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack and his wife Christy appear to be the mystery buyers behind last month's purchase of the limestone carriage house at 165 East 70th Street. The 107-year-old home, which was sold to Mack in "distressed condition" for $13.5 million—and which comes with a 12-car garage, believe it or not—was purchased from Bunny Mellon, the 99-year-old widow of philanthropist Paul Mellon. [NYO]
• Sandy Gallin, the Hollywood talent manager-turned-serial house flipper, is at it again. The onetime manager of stars like Michael Jackson and Barbra Streisand, Gallin has placed his 14-acre estate in Bridgehampton on the market for $32 million. [WSJ, Saunders]
• Steve Black, co-CEO of JP Morgan's investment banking division, has sold his estate in Greenwich for $18.9 million. The English-style mansion, which Black bought for $13.75 million in 2001, had been "quietly" on the market for $21 million. The buyer is believed to be to be investor Gerhard Andlinger. [WSJ]

Wall Street: Thursday Morning

cityfile · 05/28/09 05:55AM

• Famed hedge fund manager Art Samberg has announced plans to shut down his firm, Pequot Capital Management, after an investigation into possible insider trading at the firm was revived. [NYT, WSJ]
• One person sweating bullets about Pequot's collapse: Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack, who was tied to the mess when it first surfaced in '06. [BI]
• Citigroup is negotiating with the SEC to settle claims it misled investors by not disclosing the extent of its troubled portfolio of mortgage assets. [WSJ]
• Top Obama officials are pushing to create a "banking czar" job. [WSJ]
• The government program designed to help banks get rid of the bad loans on their books "is stalling and may soon be put on hold." [WSJ]

Wall Street: Friday Morning

cityfile · 05/15/09 05:40AM

• The Carlyle Group will pay $20 million to end an investigation by Andrew Cuomo into its dealings with pensions and placement agents. [NYT, WSJ]
• Two attorneys at the SEC are under investigation for insider trading. [CBS]
• Hedge fund manager Jim Simons is facing tough questions from angry investors who put money into one of Simons' under-performing funds. [WSJ]
• Barclays is in talks to sell its Barclays Global Investors. Blackrock and Bank of New York Mellon are two of the bidders. [BN, Reuters]
• Six major insurance companies are getting a bailout. [BN, NYT]

Wall Street Now 'Attentive'

cityfile · 03/27/09 02:20PM

So how did that little meeting go today in Washington between the president and the CEOs of the nation's largest banks? "It was very encouraging," said Morgan Stanley's John Mack. "We're all in this together," explained Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. "Our interests are very much aligned," said Robert Kelly, the chief of The Bank of New York Mellon Corp. "The president made it clear that he'd like this country to get back on track," offered JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon. "He wants us all to help." Sounds like it was almost a lovefest! Or, you know, not. The CEOs weren't given anything to eat—just "glasses of water." And according to someone who was in the room—and despite all that encouraging talk from the CEOs themselves—"it wasn't a relaxed meeting, though the group was engaged and attentive." Thank you for doing President Obama the favor of paying attention, gentlemen. Your sacrifice has been noted for the record. [BN, DB]

Geithner Lays Out His New Plan

cityfile · 03/23/09 05:51AM

• Tim Geithner has unveiled his latest plan to deal with the financial crisis. This one involves a partnership between the government and private investors, and could eventually involve buying up to $1 trillion in toxic assets from banks, although it isn't generating unanimous support. "It fills me with a sense of despair," says the Times's Paul Krugman. [WSJ, NYT, BN, NYT]
• New documents over the weekend indicate AIG paid out $218 million in bonuses, more than the previously disclosed $165 million. [Reuters]
• Here's another way to look at the AIG mess: If those bonuses hadn't been paid, the U.S. government may have had $1.7 trillion to worry about. [NYP]
• That trip to AIG on Saturday? Lots of reporters, many fewer protesters. [AP]
• Obama reiterated his support for Geithner on 60 Minutes. [Dealbreaker]

Activists Converge on John Mack's House

cityfile · 02/09/09 10:49AM

You can bet John Mack didn't have a very peaceful weekend. The Morgan Stanley chief was one of two banking execs subjected to a protest yesterday when members of the non-profit Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America turned up in bright yellow t-shirts bearing signs that read "Fix Our Loans, Save Our Homes" and "Shame on You, CEO." (The protesters gathered outside Mack's home in Rye, left; the other target was Greenwich Financial Services CEO William Frey.) No word on Mack's reaction to the event, although we're going to go ahead and assume the protestors weren't invited inside for tea and cookies. [Greenwich Time]

Mack Reclaims Bragging Rights

cityfile · 01/13/09 03:15PM

As expected, Morgan Stanley took control of Smith Barney this afternoon, paying Citigroup $2.7 billion for a 51 percent stake in the brokerage firm. Even better: It allows John Mack, Morgan Stanley's CEO, to go home to his wife tonight and brag that he controls the largest brokerage firm in America, grabbing the coveted title out of the hands of Ken Lewis, the Bank of America chief who completed the acquisition of Merrill Lynch just two weeks ago. [Bloomberg]

Citi and Morgan Stanley Close In on a Deal

cityfile · 01/12/09 07:37AM

• Talks between Citigroup and Morgan Stanley continue as the two banks discuss a plan to combine Citi's Smith Barney unit with Morgan Stanley's brokerage division in a joint venture worth $20 billion. [FT, Bloomberg, WSJ]
• It remains unclear if Vikram Pandit will be able to hang on as Citigroup's CEO, especially amid rumors the bank will report a $10 billion loss for the fourth quarter. In the meantime, banking regulators are pushing for the removal of Citi's chairman, Win Bischoff. [NYT, WSJ]
• The man who will likely lead the Citi-Morgan Stanley joint venture, James Gorman, is now considered the frontrunner to take over for Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack when he retires next year. [Bloomberg]
Phil Falcone's Harbinger is the latest hedge fund to limit redemptions. [DB]
• The board of the Federal Reserve of New York met with candidates over the weekend as part of their effort to find a replacement for Tim Geithner. [NYT]

Bernie Madoff: Not Behind Bars Just Yet!

cityfile · 01/06/09 08:29AM

• A judge has yet to decide whether Bernie Madoff can stay at home or if he'll have to report to prison for violating the terms of his bail by handing over $1 million jewelry to his sons on Christmas Eve. [NYT]
• The trustee liquidating Madoff's firm has found $830 million in assets. [BN]
• Merrill brokerage chief Bob McCann is leaving the firm now that the sale of Merrill to Bank of America is complete. [WSJ]
• Rumor has it Wesley Edens is exploring the possibility of taking his beleaguered hedge fund/private equity shop private. [FT]
• Who will replace Morgan Stanley chief John Mack? The bank's board is now exploring the options in preparation for Mack's retirement in 2010. [WSJ]
Flailing billionaire Ron Perelman is hoping to squeeze more cash out of Morgan Stanley as part of a 10-year-old legal dispute. [NYP]