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Blackstone Poaches Merrill Lynch Executive To Replace CFO

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Blackstone has replaced its chief financial officer with a top executive poached from Merrill Lynch. Laurence Tosi, who has been at Merrill for nine years and most recently was the chief operating officer of its investment banking division, will replace Michael Puglisi, a 14 year Blackstone vet.
The move by Tosi is being read by the cynical in two ways. First, it may be a sign that internal friction among the top executives at Merrill continues. Following the resignation of Stanley O'Neal, who appointed Tosi to his spot, and the rise of John Thain, there was lots of talk of internal wrangling at the bank. Lately the internal situation has quieted as executives adjusted to new leadership. But a high-level defection is sure to re-ignite whispers of internal dissent.
The second cynical read of the move highlights a structural change on Wall Street. As investment banks and brokerages lower leverage and come under deeper regulatory scrutiny, the relative power and profitability of alternative investment houses like Blackstone is sure to rise. Could Tosi's move be further evidence of the coming decline of traditional investment banks and the ascendancy of the increasingly hybrid Blackstone, which many describe as a budding investment bank disguised as a buyout shop?
Or, you know, may he just wanted a new job and more money. But, as Nick Walker says in one of our favorite movies, "It would be better if it meant something."
Blackstone appoints new CFO [Reuters]