Firm CEO Said To Have Taken Own Life / Global M&A Head Dead After Heart Attack

Despair Statue

The unexpected death last week of Alex Widmer, CEO of Bank Julius Baer, Switzerland's largest independent private bank, has given rise to speculation that it was a suicide.

Although the word last week was that Widmer, 52, had died Wednesday from an unspecified illness, an unnamed source has advised the Reuters news agency that he had been told by close friends of the banker's family that Widmer had committed suicide. The Wall Street Journal has also reported unnamed 'people familiar with the situation' who claim that Swiss police are treating the matter as suicide. Details of Widmer's death were not disclosed until Friday morning, as the bank said that it needed time to reach his children with the news. The bank has also insisted that the banker's death is completely unconnected with its own activities. The Group has seen its stock fall around 60% this year, and was down some 9.5% Friday.

Widmer joined the Julius Baer Group three years ago, becoming CEO of Bank Julius Baer some 13 months ago. He spent 19 years at Credit Suisse, where he ran the firm's global private banking unit for three years before joining Baer. He is survived by three children. Widmer's wife is said to have died of cancer in 2005.

Finally, also sad to report that Gavin Macdonald, Morgan Stanley's global head of M&A who suffered a heart attack at the firm's Canary Wharf HQ last Monday, died Friday. He was only 47.

Here's the memo Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack has sent to staff:

'Dear Colleagues:

It is with great sadness that I inform you that Gavin MacDonald, Global Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, died on Friday evening. Gavin was an extremely decent, universally liked, funny, selfless and deeply valued man. He was also a close and generous friend to many of us.

Gavin joined the Firm in 1983 from Cambridge University having graduated with a First and a Rugby Blue. One of the founding members of the European Mergers & Acquisitions department, he became a Vice Chairman of Investment Banking in 2004, Global Head of Mergers & Acquisitions last year, and was a member of the European Management Committee. Gavin was a trusted advisor to many important clients in Europe and a role model at Morgan Stanley. He will be greatly missed.

Please join me in extending our condolences to his wife Luise and family.

Sincerely,
John Mack'

Source - The Wall Street Journal

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