'Ferrets Fighting In A Sack' At Top Firm ?

That's how The Sunday Times quotes former Lazard chairman Sir John Nott, watching from the sidelines, and apparently pontificating about what's going on at his old firm. And it's all about that IPO.

Head of Lazard, Bruce Wasserstein, is now believed to have got most of the firm's 202 working partners signed up to the IPO - and these folks, together with executives and managers, who run the firm's day-to-day operations, are believed to own around 64% of the business. And Bruce is said to have got the working partners on board by doing what he does best - a deal. Bruce is now believed to have caved in and agreed that these partners would not, after all, be expected to take a 30% pay cut as the firm moves towards IPO. Wasserstein is said to have also backed off from his original plan to lock partners in for 3 years. Instead, partners are likely to be asked to signed an non-legally binding declaration of intent that they will stay with the firm for at least 2 years following a float.

But The Sunday Times insists that it's still not a done deal - as Bruce has yet to come to terms with firm Chairman Michel David-Weill. It seems that stories of David-Weill rolling over may be a bit premature. And some inside Lazard are now said to be worrying that all the so-called in-fighting is beginning to hurt the firm and becoming a huge distraction.

The newspaper says that battle lines remain drawn and quotes an unnamed banker who said that 'David-Weill is doddery now. When I last saw him he had trouble getting out of his car and had to be helped across the road. But he won't let go. Wasserstein's ego is just as big. He wants to feed it and pocket a fortune in the process'. So, it looks like the Lazard IPO saga will run awhile yet.

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