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.

AIG Is Now an ATM

cityfile · 08/06/09 08:55AM

AIG has been a big disaster the last few months, hasn't it? Not if you happen to work for Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, or BlackRock, or any of the other dozen or so banks and law firms expected to rake in as much as $1 billion breaking apart the insurance giant. But at least one firm involved in the process is making it clear that they see this as a civic mission—not just a convenient way to generate fat fees. The law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell has generously offered up a 10 percent discount on its services, so it's only billing the federal government $950 an hour for legal advice. Thanks, guys! [WSJ]

Morgan Stanley Is No JPMorgan

cityfile · 07/22/09 11:43AM

Things may be all hunky-dory at Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase now that both firms announced hugely profitable second quarter profits. The same can't be said for Morgan Stanley, though. The bank posted a $1.26 billion loss for the second quarter today, but as is the case with so many things on Wall Street, you should not expect any of the execs at Morgan Stanley to feel the sting: The firm set aside 72 percent of the $5.9 billion it collected in during the second quarter for compensation and benefits. "It was a very good quarter to be a Morgan Stanley employee," said one analyst. "I'm not so sure it was so good to be a Morgan Stanley shareholder." [Bloomberg]

Morgan Stanley Loses Bragging Rights

cityfile · 06/17/09 08:55AM

Yesterday it was reported that Morgan Stanley would be "first in line" to pay back the money it received last fall from the U.S government as part of the good ol' TARP. Morgan Stanley won't be able to claim that honor, sadly. U.S. Bancorp and BB&T were the first banks to repay the government in full today. Morgan and Goldman Sachs are now claiming that they plan to settle the matter by the end of the day. Let's hurry it up, gentlemen. It's not like bureaucrats in Washington work investment banking hours, you know. [NYT/Dealbook]

A Historic First: Bankers Happy To Surrender Cash

cityfile · 06/09/09 09:18AM

The Treasury Department has given to go-ahead to ten big banks to begin repaying the billions provided to them by U.S. taxpayers. And for what may be the first time in history, they're expressing delight at the prospect of writing checks instead of collecting them. The Treasury Department didn't release a list this morning of the ten financial institutions that made the cut. But the joyous public statements by their CEOs has helped assemble a list, which is believed to include Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of New York Mellon, the State Street Corporation, American Express, the BB&T Corporation, Capital One, and US Bancorp. [Dealbook]

Wall Street: Thursday Morning

cityfile · 06/04/09 06:41AM

• Morgan Stanley may get out from under the TARP sooner rather than later now that the bank has raised another $2 billion of Japanese cash. [DB]
• AIG was spending a fortune to sponsor the British soccer team Manchester United. Now that it no longer has a fortune to spend, Aon is taking over. [DB]
• Fewer people filed new claims for jobless benefits for a third straight week last week, and worker productivity is up, too, so that's good news. [Reuters]

Wall Street: Tuesday Morning

cityfile · 06/02/09 05:56AM

• JPMorgan Chase, American Express and Morgan Stanley all announced plans to raise fresh capital today, so they're prepared to repay the taxpayer money they've received as soon as Washington gives them the go-ahead. [WSJ, BN]
• Related: The Federal Reserve says next week it will announce an initial set of banks that have been approved to exit the bailout program. [NYT]
• Citigroup has stopped paying out massive severance payouts to a handful of execs who recently left the company. Is it legal? Not really, but they're betting that it would be too embarrassing for them "to file lawsuits against the struggling, taxpayer-backed company seeking the money." [WSJ]
• Ex-Bear Stearns chief Alan Schwartz is joining Guggenheim Partners. [WSJ]
• After a good day on Monday, stocks are taking a breather today. [NYT]
• GM says it has a deal to sell Hummer, but won't disclose the buyer. If you were buying Hummer, would you want your name publicized? [WSJ]

Wall Street: Friday Morning

cityfile · 05/29/09 05:43AM

• It looks like General Motors will file for bankruptcy on Monday. [WSJ]
• Bill Ackman, the activist investor who's been taking aim at Target for months now, lost his battle to remake the company's board yesterday. [Fortune]
• A group of banks and money managers are now trying to "fend off" some of the new trading rules proposed by the Obama administration. [WSJ]
• The U.S. economy shrank at a 5.7 percent annual pace in the first quarter, which makes it the worst six-month performance in five decades. [BN]

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: Wednesday Morning

cityfile · 05/27/09 05:48AM

• Following a similar move by Morgan Stanley last week, Citigroup and Bank of America are raising base salaries for bankers. It's designed to make up for the new limits on annual bonuses (and won't make up for the difference, by any means), so don't expect shouts of joy at either bank today. [WSJ]
• Bank of America has scraped together another $5.9 billion, which means it's now 76 percent of the way toward filling its $33.9 billion capital hole. [WSJ]
• New York State Controller Thomas DiNapoli is cutting ties with 10 hedge fund managers as part of the state's pension corruption investigation. [DB]

Drinking and Trading: Not a Good Combo

cityfile · 05/20/09 06:44PM

No wonder the economy is in such trouble: "A trader who returned from a three-hour lunch involving alcohol and racked up big positions in oil futures, and then concealed the trades from employer Morgan Stanley, has the bank at the center of the second such scandal in the space of a week." [WSJ]

Wall Street: Tuesday Morning

cityfile · 05/19/09 05:49AM

• Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley have applied to refund a total of $45 billion of bailout money. The government now has to decide whether to take the cash and run the risk of upsetting less fortunate banks who can't afford to repay their bailout money. [BN, DB]
• Money management giant Blackrock has its hand in just about everything these days, which is why lots of people are asking questions. [NYT, WSJ]
• Eight months after Lehman Brothers went down and lawyers are raising questions about the "rushed sale" of its capital markets unit to Barclays. [DB]
• American Express says it plans to eliminate 4,000 jobs. [NYT]
• Builders broke ground on the fewest homes on record in April. Housing starts dropped 12.8%, although Wall Street had been predicting an increase. [BN]
• Tim Geithner says he doesn't want to institute pay caps. He just wants to curb aggressive risk-taking. Of course, if you can't take risk, you can't make a lot of money, so we're right back where we started, aren't we? [NYT]

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: Thursday Morning

cityfile · 05/14/09 05:41AM

• AIG's Ed Liddy now says the company will need three to five years to carry out its restructuring plan and repay taxpayer bailout money. [NYT]
• Hedge funds actually saw returns rise more than three percent in April. [DB]
• Walter Noel's Fairfield Greenwich hedge fund is no more. The disgraced firm is handing over its remaining $2.5 billion to Sciens Capital. [NYP]
• The rich get richer: As financial firms raise capital and pay back TARP money, it's Goldman, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan that are profiting. [Fortune]

Wall Street: Monday Morning

cityfile · 05/11/09 05:41AM

• The market has been up big the last few weeks. But the ride may be over. "The market has gone too far, too fast," as one fund manager puts it. [BN]
• Following the stress tests last week, a number of banks have been busy de-stressing: Both Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo raised billions late last week to satisfy new capital requirements mandated by the Fed. [NYT]
• Meanwhile, Bank of America, which needs to raise $34 billion (down from the $50 billion it could have been forced to raise) is looking to offload its stake in China Construction Bank, although finding takers isn't easy. [WSJ]
• Warning: Turning around AIG may take a bit longer than expected. [WSJ]

Wall Street: Monday Morning

cityfile · 04/27/09 05:56AM

John Thain is striking back at Bank of America in an effort "to restore his sullied reputation," and accusing BofA's CEO, Ken Lewis, of lying. [WSJ]
• Thanks to rising profits, employees at several banks are on track to earn as much money this year as they did before the financial crisis. [NYT]
• UBS's head of investment banking, Jerker Johansson, is stepping down. [DB]
Steve Rattner caught a break on Friday when Quadrangle Group investors decided not to shut down his scandal-plagued fund. [NYT, NYP]