CEO Said To Have Lost Relevance - 'Given Over To Complete Narcissism'

Bruce Wasserstein

The April issue of Vanity Fair has a lengthy article on legendary dealmaker Bruce Wasserstein, who died in October last year, aged 61.

The article is written by William D. Cohen, the author of the highly readable The Last Tycoons - The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co, and is chock full of little gems.

For instance, Cohan claims that Wasserstein's health was not always as good as he and Lazard were letting on. He claims:

'In February 2006, he (Wasserstein) disappeared from Lazard's offices for four months. The firm made no announcement concerning the health of the CEO, despite the fact that shareholders were entitled to know that information. 'He was bruised all over his body', explains one who saw him after he returned to the office that May. 'He looked like a guy who had been going through chemo or something'. Inside the firm, the explanation was that he was suffering a prolonged bout of pneumonia'.

Wasserstein also seems to have had a complicated personal life right up to the end of his life. He is said to have split with his 3rd wife in 2008, fathered a child with a recent graduate of Columbia Business School, and then married his fourth wife, Angela Chao, 35, in February 2009.

But by far the most damning indictment of Wasserstein comes from the mouth of a former Lazard partner, who told Cohan: 'He was a horrible manager, because he was completely self-involved by the time he got control of the firm..........He was just given over to complete narcissism. He had lost his relevance. ....You'd take him to client meetings and most of the time you'd be exchanging looks with the CEO of the company'. Lohan says: 'The message the clients delivered time and time again was a simple one. Don't bring him back'.

In the meantime, The Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Street column reports that Jon Corzine, MF Global's new chairman and CEO was seen arriving at the office for his first day Monday carrying a doggy bag with his lunch inside. Not for Corzine a flash restaurant for lunch. Not just yet anyway.

Finally, Time magazine has an article about new Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and how he was settled down to his new job. And it's all good - apparently Washington officials say Moynihan is easier to deal with than predecessor Ken Lewis, analysts are impressed with his knowledge of the bank's businesses, and consumer advocates are applauding his initiatives on debit cards and foreclosures. Rochdale Securities analyst Richard Bove sums it all up, when he says: 'He's really come out strong. I was not a fan at first, but I have become one'.

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