Remember William Bryan Jennings? To recap, he’s the Morgan Stanley executive who last December had a cab take him home to Darien, Connecticut from Manhattan and, according to the driver, refused to pay the $200 fare and instead began threatening the guy with racial slurs before intentionally stabbing his hand with a pen knife. According to WBJ’s lawyer, there were no threats or slurs and while the stabbing did happen, it was by accident and Jennings only pulled out the knife he had on him because he was “fearful for his safety” and “did not intend to hurt” the driver. The two parted ways around midnight, at which time Jennings went to bed and the cabbie called the police, who had trouble identifying WBJ until they got a lucky break with video footage from the deli on 10th Avenue he asked the driver to stop at for snacks on the way to CT. Anyway, Jennings, who turned himself in two weeks after the incident following a family vacation in Florida and was later placed on leave from Morgan Stanley, was set to appear in court on Monday but then this happened: Read more »
Morgan Stanley Exec Who “Accidentally” Stabbed Cab Driver After Difference Of Opinion Re: Fare Gets Off (Update)By Bess Levin
Back in January, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman sent a simple messages to his employees, who had been grumbling about their pay: STFU or GTFO. “You’re naive, read the newspaper, No.1,” Gorman told Bloomberg he would say to any members of his staff that wanted to give him lip about their compensation to his face. “No. 2, if you put your compensation in a one-year context to define your over all level of happiness, you have a problem which is much bigger than this job. And No. 3, if you’re really unhappy, just leave.” Today, in an interview with the FT, Gorman reiterated his stance and added that in addition to reducing compensation for current employees, the bank will likely be drastically cutting pay for future analysts. If anyone has a problem with that, they should consider applying for a gig at Bank of Mythical Pre-Crisis Era Bonuses. Alternatively, Gorman is happy to discuss a compensation plan in which you’ll be awarded shares of his foot in your ass, which vest immediately. Your call. Read more »
Buried in a footnote1 a while back I ruminated on the fact that, in the deal where Morgan Stanley bought a chunk of its Morgan Stanley Smith Barney brokerage JV from Citigroup, Morgan Stanley got a sort-of-free option to buy the rest of Smith Barney, and how that option is (1) valuable and (2) sort of cheap funding. That was basically all wrong, sorry! The lesson is, never read footnotes.
Charlie Gasparino is reporting that “Morgan Stanley chief James Gorman is making a full-court press with regulators to expedite the purchase of the remaining piece of the Smith Barney brokerage firm from Citigroup, moving up the buyout date as much as two years ahead of schedule,” so I guess Gorman puts the time value of that option at zero or less. As for cheap funding, Goldman had a research note this week saying that they met with Morgan Stanley and heard the same story, and also that:
At the margin, full MSSB ownership should have a meaningful impact on ROE as: 1) MS is still paying Citigroup a portion of earnings from the JV despite holding capital to support the entire business, 2) synergies with the Institutional Securities business will grow (i.e. client flow routing), and 3) the funding profile and client product offering mix will improve.
I think the second two things say something like “Citi won’t appreciate us shoving all of our MSSB customers into high-margin Morgan Stanley products, so we have to get rid of them before doing that,” though you could read them otherwise. The first thing calls the cheap-funding argument into some doubt, though maybe not that much doubt; Morgan Stanley’s capital is by some metrics cheaper than Citi’s, while its (credit market) funding is more expensive, so maybe this is still a good deal.
Anyway here’s what Gasparino has to say about the delay: Read more »
Here’s an interesting set of slides that Morgan Stanley CFO Ruth Porat presented at the Barclays conference today. For some reason this one struck me:
Morgan Stanley: basically a mutual fund! Half a mutual fund. Really barely at all an investment bank, which I guess is the way of the world for investment banks, but still sort of stark to see it there in black and white, er, navy and yellow. And Morgan Stanley will be shifting even more toward wealth/asset managing after today’s hotly negotiated purchase of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.1 As Reuters puts it: Read more »
Goldman Research Analysts Suggest That Morgan Stanley Should Get Smaller And/Or Better At Bond TradingBy Matt Levine
Wall Street banks’ research on their competitors is not only a window into analysts’ anxieties about their own banks’ prospects, but also a ripe area for conflicts between investment advice and industry advocacy. The days of analysts writing research reports that were like “Facebook should really do a huge equity offering and hire my bank as sole underwriter,” or whatever, are mostly behind us, but when banks write about their industry you might wonder if they’re giving dispassionate advice or pushing their employer’s interests. And when they write about their competitors it must be tempting to be a bit underminey. So various banks have published research saying “actually breaking up the big banks would be bad for shareholders,” which may be true but also not un-self-interested, as breaking up the big banks would surely be bad for the equity research analysts they employ. And then Morgan Stanley published a don’t-break-up-the-banks piece saying “… except Citi,”1 and if you knew that MS is in the process of trying to buy a chunk of Citi cheaply you might be like hmmm. Today Goldman recommends that Morgan Stanley get out of fixed-income trading, and, again: suspicious!
That’s arguably not their main point; much like JPMorgan last week, GS set out to quantify how much of their fun financial regulation is ruining, which again you could read as advocacy. Even though it’s the opposite of what Lloyd is advocating. Here’s Bloomberg:
New bank regulations and capital requirements are “structural” changes to the industry that are more to blame for declining profits than the U.S. economic slump, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts said.
“The operating environment is unlikely to change any time soon, and we see shareholders of challenged banks becoming more demanding in asking management teams to lay out a path to unlocking value in the near term,” analysts led by Richard Ramsden in New York wrote in a report published today.
Their view contrasts with Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein, who said in November, “I don’t think we can conclude that the slowdown is secular rather than cyclical change.”
Here is their main chart, which is sad though perhaps too soon to call secular: Read more »
Employees within fixed income may need to find room at another inn. Read more »
They’re not there yet, however; first, they’re going to send James Gorman a strongly worded letter about the issue and make a decision based on his response. They do sound pretty miffed though, so God help the guy if his answer is anything but “I’ve got my tool kit and I’m on the way over.” Read more »