John Mack's epitaph isn't likely to be a list of his many achievements working on Wall Street, but rather the memory of the time he told Tim Geithner, then President of the New York Fed (and now US Treasury Secretary) to 'get f*cked'.
In September 2008 Mack (then Morgan Stanley's CEO), was busy on the telephone putting the finishing touches to the deal that would see Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi invest $9bn to ensure that the Wall Street firm remained independent. In the meantime, Geithner, worried about the prospect that Morgan Stanley might follow Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy, was agitating for Mack to speak to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon about a merger.
Mack was adamantly opposed to a merger because of the huge job losses that would ensue. This was the second time in a few minutes that Geithner had tried to reach Mack, who placed his hand over the telephone mouthpiece and told his assistant to 'Tell Tim Geithner to get f*cked. I'm trying to save my firm!'.
When asked at Morgan Stanley's annual meeting Tuesday as to whether this tale was true, Mack joked: 'The language was probably stronger'.
And although shareholders voted against a proposal that would require Morgan Stanley to have a truly independent Chairman (in other words, not John Mack, a previous CEO), Mack was forced to come out and emphasis that current firm CEO James Gormon is not simply his puppet. Mack said: 'I told James if I'm ever in your way, just tell me and I'll resign'. Gorman confirmed: 'I am unambiguously the CEO of the corporation'.
When asked if he could provide an color on the speculation that Morgan Stanley was being probed for alleged CDO sales abuses, Gorman replied in the negative and refused to speculate about something he has no knowledge of. 'I don't believe in Dancing In The Dark', he said. Further proof that Gorman's The Boss.
Sources - Bloomberg, Reuters, The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal