THE POWER 75 - Changing of the Guard
Our inaugural ranking of the most-powerful figures in finance underscores a historic shift in the global economic order.
In the euphoric aftermath of the collapse of communism and a swift victory in the Gulf War, the first President George Bush boldly proclaimed a new world order of economic and political liberalism, a vision that was as idealistic as it was hubristic. In the ensuing years the U.S. reigned supreme around the globe militarily, culturally — and, above all, economically and financially. Avatars of globalization, Wall Street’s giants spread the American gospel of stock ownership and easy credit to the far corners of the earth, while the U.S. Treasury — working hand in glove with the International Monetary Fund — enforced the Washington consensus of privatization, free trade and financial deregulation.
Today that world seems hardly recognizable. U.S. influence has dissipated as a result of military action abroad and credit excesses at home, while the successes of globalization have shifted prosperity and economic power from the developed West to a wide swath of countries in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
These changes have manifested themselves with stunning rapidity lately in the world of finance, producing a historic shift in power perhaps best exemplified by events at Citigroup. The bank has long been a symbol of American financial might and ingenuity; its executive committee chairman, Robert Rubin, all but ruled the global economy as U.S. Treasury secretary in the 1990s, dictating the terms of the resolution of the Asian financial crisis. But facing write-downs of as much as $18 billion for its subprime exposure, Citi, and Rubin, were forced to go cap in hand to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) for a $7.5 billion capital injection. How the mighty have fallen! Bear, Stearns & Co., Merrill Lynch & Co., Morgan Stanley, UBS — all have beaten similar paths to the developing world in search of capital.
To help make sense of these changes, we decided to compile a list of the most powerful and influential people in the world of finance today, what we are calling The Power 75. Yes, it’s our opinion; yes, it’s arbitrary; and yes, we think it reflects the dramatic shifts in the pecking order of global finance.
Heading the list, not surprisingly, is Ben Bernanke, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board chairman. American financial might may stand diminished, but Bernanke’s control of U.S. interest rates still affects the rate of growth, the availability of credit and the value of stocks, bonds and currencies in the U.S. and around the world.
Otherwise, the top of this list looks dramatically different than it would have only a year ago. The new ascendant powers are led by China, whose massive reserves of nearly $1.5 trillion have given the country a clout its Communist leaders could barely dream of a generation ago. As a consequence, Lou Jiwei, who as head of China Investment Corp. is spearheading the country’s efforts to invest that newfound wealth abroad, ranks second on our list. China’s liquidity tide has also fueled a stock market boom and transformed, seemingly overnight, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China into the world’s biggest bank by market capitalization. ICBC’s chairman, Jiang Jianqing, is at No. 4, one place behind the untarnished king of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs Group chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
Money is power, of course, and our ranking reflects that fact with prominent places for the world’s sovereign wealth funds — as well as cash-rich Western investors like Warren Buffett and hedge fund magnate Kenneth Griffin. These players are using their money to extend their influence and buy significant stakes in a raft of major financial institutions.
But power is about more than just money. Consider an activist investor like Eric Knight of Knight Vinke Asset Management. He controls less than one one-hundredth the amount of assets that ADIA does, but by working with major investors like the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and waging carefully targeted campaigns, he has been able to force change at major companies such as Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Suez. Now he is taking on HSBC.
Like all such lists, this one is by nature subjective, and subject to change. It remains to be seen whose power will prove more long-lived: ICBC’s Jiang, who, notwithstanding his bank’s massive market cap, has little global presence to speak of, or Vikram Pandit, the untested new CEO of Citi, who inherits a humbled institution but one whose brand recognition and global reach remain enviable.
We hope our ranking proves thought-provoking and look forward to reviewing this power elite in the years to come.
1 Ben Bernanke
Chairman, Federal Reserve Board
The Harvard University–educated economist made his academic reputation as a professor at Princeton University by advocating inflation targeting as the best strategy for central banks and showing how the Federal Reserve Board’s tight credit policies contributed to the Great Depression. Now the world holds its breath, hoping Ben Bernanke can successfully practice what he preached as he tries to tame the credit crisis and keep the U.S. economy afloat by easing monetary policy without triggering a surge in inflation or a collapse of the dollar. The Fed chief, 54, set up a special auction facility and swap lines with the European and Swiss central banks to provide extra liquidity to banks. Will it work? At least Bernanke provides timely and detailed information about the Fed’s reading of the economy, and is more open than his Delphic predecessor, Alan Greenspan.
2 Lou Jiwei
Chairman, China Investment Corp.
China had not even named its $200 billion sovereign wealth fund when Lou Jiwei bought a $3 billion pre-IPO stake in Blackstone in June. The subsequent tumble in the U.S. private equity firm’s shares raised hackles at home, but Lou is pressing ahead with plans to invest some $70 billion of CIC’s funds overseas. His appetite, and influence, will only increase with the prodigious growth of China’s reserves. Lou’s $5 billion investment in Morgan Stanley helped bail out the firm and its CEO, John Mack, from their subprime woes last month. A 57-year-old computer-programmer-turned-economist who rose under the tutelage of reformist Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, Lou is a must-see for every Finance minister and capital-starved executive.
3 Lloyd Blankfein
Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs Group
The unassuming son of a postal worker, Lloyd Blankfein, 53, presides over the greatest and most influential moneymaking machine on Wall Street since J.P. Morgan — the man, that is. Goldman executives do more deals and fill more top government jobs than any of their rivals — they even helped bring Alex Rodriguez back to the New York Yankees. The firm’s uncanny ability to profit from the subprime mortgage crisis — it used derivatives to bet on big declines in collateralized debt obligations backed by mortgages — distanced Goldman from its Wall Street peers and, indeed, many of its clients, who lost billions. Blankfein joined Goldman in 1981 after it bought J. Aron & Co., where he worked as a coin and gold salesman, and then rose to the top of the fixed-income, currency and commodities division, Goldman’s profit engine. He was named CEO in 2006, when predecessor Henry Paulson Jr. became U.S. Treasury secretary, and led the firm to record earnings of $11.6 billion in 2007.
4 Jiang Jianqing
Chairman, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Few believed Jiang Jianqing when he announced in 2000, on becoming chairman of ICBC, that he intended to build a bank to rival Citigroup. But after a big state capital injection to write off nonperforming loans, Jiang took ICBC public with a massive $22 billion IPO in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 2006. The cash-rich bank now boasts the biggest market cap of any financial institution in the world: $453 billion, compared with Citi’s $137 billion. Jiang, 54, is determined to use that strength to build an international presence commensurate with China’s global ambitions. He has expanded rapidly overseas with acquisitions in Macao and Singapore, and just spent $5.5 billion on a 20 percent stake in Standard Bank of South Africa. Back home, Jiang is putting wealth management centers in thousands of ICBC’s domestic branches to capture more of China’s savings — and fee income.
5 Jean-Claude Trichet
President, European Central Bank
Since the ECB was founded in 1999, skeptics have questioned whether the multinational entity could respond effectively in a crisis. Trichet’s decisive reaction to the credit market turmoil last August — moving ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board to inject €95 billion ($139 billion) in emergency liquidity into the money markets to contain a spike in rates — quashed any doubts and established the 65-year-old Frenchman as a force for stability. Trichet, president since 2003, further cemented the bank’s reputation for going its own way later in the year, holding euro-zone rates steady even as its counterparts in the U.K. and the U.S. eased policy.
6 Ho Ching
CEO, Temasek Holdings
As CEO of Singapore’s strategic investment vehicle since 2004, Ho Ching has pushed deep into overseas markets and made Temasek a model for many of today’s sovereign wealth funds. Her $4.4 billion investment in Merrill Lynch & Co. last month adds to an impressive portfolio of financial assets that includes sizable stakes in Barclays, Standard Chartered Bank, ICICI Bank, Bank of China and China Construction Bank, as well as a controlling interest in Singapore bank DBS Group. Temasek’s prominence and political connections — Ho is the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong — have created a backlash in some cases. The company’s purchase of a $3.9 billion stake in Shin Corp., the Thai telecom operator, spurred civil unrest and a coup that deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006, underscoring the increased sensitivity that sovereign wealth funds face.
7 Zhou Xiaochuan
Governor, People’s Bank of China
As head of China’s central bank since 2002, Zhou Xiaochuan is the leading voice for market-oriented reforms of the country’s booming but still state-dominated economy. He oversees the bank’s $1.4 trillion of reserves, which gives him enormous clout over everything from the dollar’s value to global stock market valuations. Zhou abandoned China’s fixed exchange rate for a crawling peg against the dollar in 2005, and he has ratcheted up interest rates in a bid to prevent the economy from overheating. His October elevation to the Communist Party’s Central Committee raised hopes among international investors and policymakers that Zhou will win a second term as governor in March; with inflation rising and trade tensions building with the U.S. and Europe, the central bank faces pressure to speed up the pace of reform.
8 Henry Paulson Jr.
Secretary, U.S. Treasury
There are days Hank Paulson must wish he were still CEO of Goldman Sachs Group. After becoming secretary in July 2006, Paulson restored the Treasury’s status and became the dominant influence on Bush administration economic policy, using his China connections to soothe trade frictions between the two countries. Then came the credit crisis, where his efforts have proved less successful. A Treasury-endorsed plan to create a giant structured-investment vehicle to support securities backed by subprime mortgages collapsed in December, while an agreement to facilitate the freezing of interest rates on some mortgages drew criticism from lenders and borrowers alike.
9 Jamie Dimon
CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
The pupil outshines the master, as Sandy Weill’s erstwhile protégé steered JPMorgan through the credit crunch, picking up market share and accolades (the bank topped our inaugural investment banking survey, in December) while keeping mortgage-related losses to a minimum. The contrast with Citigroup, where Jamie Dimon, 51, rose to become president before falling afoul of Weill in 1998, couldn’t be more stark. Citi struggled for weeks to find a CEO after Charles Prince resigned over the bank’s massive mortgage losses. The detail-oriented, risk-obsessed Dimon managed to grow earnings last year at the nation’s third-biggest bank despite taking $1.6 billion of write-downs on leveraged loans and collateralized debt obligations. Dimon might own New York, were it not for those pesky folks at 85 Broad Street.
10 Christopher Hohn
Founder and managing partner, The Children’s Investment Fund Management U.K.
Don’t get this man angry. Christopher Hohn burst onto the European investment scene in 2005 by leading a shareholder revolt that derailed Deutsche Börse’s bid for the London Stock Exchange and forced out its top management. A relentless and shrewd investor whose flagship fund has gained 41.9 percent annually since its January 2004 inception, Hohn, 41, controls more than $10 billion. His demand last year that ABN Amro shed assets or solicit bids led to the Dutch bank’s €71.4 billion ($105 billion) acquisition by a Royal Bank of Scotland–led group. Hohn is currently pushing for management changes at U.S. railroad group CSX Corp.
11 Josef Ackermann
CEO, Deutsche Bank
Just 15 months ago, on trial in Germany accused of illegally approving bonuses in the Mannesmann takeover battle, Josef Ackermann’s career was on the ropes. But he was vindicated, and now, as many rival CEOs are being brought down by subprime mortgage losses, his reputation has been enhanced. Deutsche Bank’s hits were modest, while its profits and global investment banking franchise remained strong. The Swiss-born Ackermann led the industry in calling on banks to write down damaged assets; he alerted German regulators to subprime woes at IKB Deutsche Industriebank and contributed to a €3.5 billion ($5.2 billion) bailout. Talk about turnabouts: Just a few years ago, Citigroup was looking to buy Deutsche; in December, Ackermann told the Financial Times he had rebuffed overtures from the New York bank asking him to become its new CEO.
12 Sir Fred Goodwin
CEO, Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Sir Fred Goodwin doesn’t like his reputation as a compulsive acquirer, but after his dogged pursuit of ABN Amro last year, he has few grounds for complaint. The 49-year-old accountant-turned-banker teamed up with Banco Santander and Fortis to outfox Barclays’s John Varley and win ABN for €71.4 billion ($105 billion), making it the biggest bank takeover ever and the first-ever breakup bid by a consortium. Now comes the hard part: proving that ABN’s wholesale banking business, which RBS will end up with, is worth the €27.2 billion that the bank is paying. Sir Fred will have his shredders working overtime.
13 Craig Donohue
CEO, CME Group
The shadows loom large at CME Group, operator of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where the board includes former CEOs and futures pioneers Leo Melamed and Jack Sandner. But under Craig Donohue, the exchange — the world’s second-largest by market cap — is leaving its rivals in the shade with its control of 85 percent of U.S. futures trading. The onetime CME attorney helped steer it from a member-owned club to the first publicly owned U.S. exchange and consolidated its position by acquiring rival Chicago Board of Trade last year. Donohue is now flexing his muscles abroad, taking a stake in Brazil’s main futures market and teaming up with the Dubai Mercantile Exchange to launch a Gulf crude oil futures contract.
14 Stephen Green
Chairman, HSBC Holdings
HSBC has had its share of stumbles. It took a $3.4 billion third-quarter charge on U.S. consumer lending stemming from its 2002 acquisition of Household International, and its investment banking efforts have never gained much traction. Nevertheless, HSBC remains one of the world’s biggest and most profitable banks. And Stephen Green, 59, a veteran who stepped up to executive chairman from CEO in 2006, is eager to extend the bank’s reach, which is rivaled only by that of Citigroup. He is angling to buy Korea Exchange Bank, which would enhance HSBC’s enviable position in Asia and eventually help boost emerging-markets revenues to 60 percent of the bank’s total, up from 51 percent today.
15 Mohammed al-Gergawi
Chairman and CEO, Dubai Holding
The man responsible for turning the ambitions of the emirate’s visionary ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin-Rashid al-Maktoum, into reality, Mohammed al-Gergawi is one of the world’s biggest and boldest investors. The U.S.-educated al-Gergawi helped turn Dubai into a tax-free retail mecca by launching the Dubai Shopping Festival in 1996. Since being tapped in 1999 to run the ruler’s Executive Office, which owns Dubai’s major investments and was incorporated as Dubai Holding in 2004, al-Gergawi has gone on a shopping binge, snapping up stakes in the Nasdaq Stock Market, the London Stock Exchange and hedge fund operator Och-Ziff Capital Management Group while investing heavily in Dubai’s extraordinary real estate development.
16 Warren Buffett
Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway
What would you do with $47 billion? That’s how much cash Warren Buffett has at his disposal, and no one doubts that the 77-year-old Oracle of Omaha, with his folksy manner and razor-sharp investment skills, will find value with big, bold bets that run against the mainstream: Just so in 2002 he snatched up junk bonds when nobody wanted them, and in 2005 he made a prescient $21 billion wager against the U.S. dollar. Now Buffett is tackling the beleaguered bond insurance market by setting up Berkshire Hathaway Assurance Corp., which will provide guarantees to cities, states and other municipal bond issuers.
17 Hamad al-Sayari
Governor, Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority
Since becoming acting governor of the Saudi Arabian central bank in 1983, when Paul Volcker still presided over the U.S. Federal Reserve, Hamad al-Sayari has been a constant and steadying presence through good times and bad. He has stoutly defended the riyal’s fixed exchange rate to the dollar despite rising inflation and pressure from other Gulf countries to revalue, which would threaten to delay, if not derail, Saudi plans for regional monetary union. Al-Sayari has managed the country’s estimated $250 billion–plus of foreign exchange reserves conservatively. His influence looks likely to grow.
18 Brady Dougan
CEO, Credit Suisse Group
A longtime derivatives trader who shuns the spotlight and focuses intently on the bottom line, Brady Dougan has reenergized the No. 2 Swiss bank since becoming its first-ever American CEO in May. In stark contrast to stumbling crosstown rival UBS, Credit Suisse has largely avoided big subprime mortgage losses and maintained strong profitability through the credit crunch, as Dougan furthers a “one bank” strategy by integrating the group’s investment banking arm with asset and wealth management. A marathon enthusiast, Dougan is in for a long run on Zurich’s Paradeplatz.
19 Vikram Pandit
A former institutional securities chief at Morgan Stanley who ran afoul of that firm’s management turmoil in 2005 and then made a bundle by selling his Old Lane Partners hedge fund to Citigroup in 2007, Vikram Pandit suddenly finds himself in one of the hottest seats in finance after being picked to succeed Charles Prince in December. An Indian native and naturalized American, Pandit, 50, wasted little time in trying to extricate Citi from its subprime woes, taking $49 billion in structured-investment-vehicle assets onto its balance sheet. Restoring Citi’s luster — and capital base — will take more drastic action.
20 Marcel Ospel
Never question who calls the shots at UBS after a year in which the bank’s CEO, chief financial officer, chief risk officer and head of investment banking all lost their jobs over the bank’s subprime debacle. Still, Marcel Ospel’s once-sterling reputation was tarnished when losses approached nearly $14 billion, forcing him to turn to the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. and a Middle East investor, believed to be the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, for an
$11.5 billion capital injection. Those allies should help steady UBS’s wealth management juggernaut, which raked in $35 billion of net new assets in the third quarter.
21 Kenneth Griffin
Founder and CEO, Citadel Investment Group
Nothing says power like being able to take advantage of a crisis, something Ken Griffin has done repeatedly while building Citadel into a $16 billion-in-assets hedge fund dynamo. When plunging asset-backed securities threatened to bring down E*Trade Financial Corp. recently, Griffin injected $1.75 billion into the firm, giving Citadel a nearly 20 percent stake, and bought its $3 billion ABS portfolio for 27 cents on the dollar. The 39-year-old wunderkind has made similarly opportunistic purchases from Sowood Capital Management, ResMAE Mortgage Corp. and Amaranth Advisors and has produced returns estimated at more than 20 percent annually since he began investing from his Harvard dorm room nearly two decades ago.
22 Stephen Schwarzman
Co-founder and CEO, Blackstone Group
For good or ill, Schwarzman has become the face of private equity. He helped propel the LBO boom to a peak with deals like the $38 billion buyout of Equity Office Properties in February 2007. He then raised $7.1 billion by selling a 9.4 percent nonvoting stake to China Investment Corp. and floating a further 12.3 percent of Blackstone in a June IPO — just before the buyout boom burst. Schwarzman’s riches — he pocketed $450 million in the IPO and staged a notoriously extravagant 60th birthday party — made him a target of critics and fueled political demands to end tax breaks for the industry.
23 Emilio Botín
Chairman, Banco Santander
The canny deal maker outdid himself in 2007, coming out on top of the three-bank consortium that acquired ABN Amro. Even before the record €71.4 billion ($105 billion) takeover closed, Botín sold ABN’s Banca Antonveneta subsidiary to Italy’s Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena for €9 billion. The quick flip allows Santander to walk away from the ABN deal with Banco Real — giving itself a top-three banking franchise in Brazil — for just €10.9 billion. With Santander’s enjoying ample capital, a $92.5 billion market cap and earnings growing at a 20 percent clip, the 73-year-old Botín, who likes to shoot big game, is likely to be back on the hunt soon.
24 Martin Sullivan
CEO, American International Group
Martin Sullivan has helped restore calm and profits at AIG since being appointed in 2005 to replace Maurice (Hank) Greenberg after the longtime CEO was forced out over fraud allegations. The Englishman, who joined the global insurance powerhouse as a trainee clerk in 1971, has made some minor acquisitions and continues the company tradition of pioneering investments in emerging markets like Iraq, Libya and Vietnam. But Sullivan’s biggest challenges lie ahead. Losses on credit default swaps stemming from the subprime mortgage crisis have dented earnings, and Greenberg — who controls 10 percent of AIG — continues to criticize management even if he has dropped, for now, his threat of a proxy fight.
25 Sheikh Ahmed bin-Zayed al-Nahyan
Managing director, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority
Until November, Sheikh Ahmed was the world’s most discreet, least well-known $800 billion–plus investor. Then ADIA’s $7.5 billion purchase of a 4.9 percent stake in Citigroup thrust him into the limelight.
A cousin of United Arab Emirates president and Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin-Zayed al-Nahyan, Sheikh Ahmed has built ADIA into a sophisticated powerhouse that has avoided political controversy by hiring veteran managers to invest Abu Dhabi’s reserves in a diversified portfolio. But pressure for higher returns and competition with other sovereign wealth funds are pushing ADIA to become more aggressive. In 2007 it also bought a 9 percent stake in Leon Black’s Apollo Asset Management.
26 Edward Johnson III
Chairman and CEO, Fidelity Investments
Ned Johnson has built family-controlled Fidelity into the world’s biggest mutual fund company — and the U.S.’s largest 401(k) provider — since taking over from his father in 1977. His emphasis on online and telephone transaction capabilities leaves Fidelity better placed than its rivals to retain or capture baby boomers’ savings as they begin retiring, while the firm’s newly christened Pyramis Global Advisors unit has successfully battled institutional fund managers for pension mandates. Now if only the 77-year-old Johnson could resolve his own succession. Recent defections have cost the company some potential candidates, raising the odds that Johnson will pass the baton to his daughter, Abigail.
27 John Mack
Chairman and CEO, Morgan Stanley
The once and future king of Morgan Stanley, John Mack returned as the conquering hero in 2005 after an indifferent three-year stint at Credit Suisse to replace the unpopular Philip Purcell. Mack’s decision to rev up risk-taking — pouring billions into proprietary trading and private equity investing, as well as buying stakes in several hedge funds — backfired as the company took $9.4 billion in subprime-related write-downs, and Mack sacked his onetime heir apparent, Zoe Cruz. But Mack’s Chinese connections proved crucial. He snared a $5 billion capital injection from China Investment Corp., which helped to steady the firm and secure his place at the helm.
28 John Thain
Chairman and CEO, Merrill Lynch & Co.
In just under four years, John Thain transformed the New York Stock Exchange from an antiquated, scandal-ridden club into an automated, global and publicly traded powerhouse. Merrill Lynch, which tapped Thain to succeed the deposed E. Stanley O’Neal after $7.9 billion in subprime write-downs, needs that touch badly. The Illinois native moved quickly to bolster Merrill’s capital base by selling as much as $6.2 billion in shares to Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and Davis Selected Advisers of Tucson, Arizona. Now he must replace the turmoil of the O’Neal years with the cooperative culture and risk-taking acumen that defines Goldman, Sachs & Co., where Thain spent 20 years, rising to co-president.
29 Michael Diekmann
Lawyer and onetime publisher Michael Diekmann has restored the swagger of Europe’s biggest insurer since taking over as CEO in 2003, when Allianz was reeling from losses on natural disasters and the 9/11 terror attacks. Cost-cutting and tighter risk controls have produced bumper profits in property and casualty insurance and in Allianz’s $1.3 trillion asset management arm — Europe’s fourth biggest — while Diekmann expands aggressively in high-growth markets in Eastern Europe and Asia. But Diekmann has yet to generate consistent returns at his Dresdner Bank subsidiary, which slipped into the red because of the credit crisis in the third quarter.
30 Kenneth Lewis
Chairman and CEO, Bank of America
The heir to master builder Hugh McColl’s NationsBank throne, Ken Lewis continues to seek ways to grow the biggest U.S. bank even as it takes hits from the credit crisis. He stepped into the battle for ABN Amro in April to pick up LaSalle Bank of Chicago for a cool $21 billion, then injected $2 billion into Countrywide Financial Corp. in August. Lewis has even restated his commitment to investment banking, after famously saying he had had as much fun as he could stand when the unit’s profits plunged by 93 percent in the third quarter because of trading losses and loan write-downs.
31 Henry Kravis
Co-founder and CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Henry Kravis invented the modern buyout game in the late ’70s and early ’80s and continues to personify it today. Since its inception KKR has raised more than $57 billion in capital and now employs more than 800,000 people. In 2007 the firm completed two of the biggest acquisitions ever, paying $45 billion for Texas electric utility TXU Corp. and $26 billion for credit card processor First Data Corp. Although the credit crunch has crimped the buyout business, Kravis, in it for the long haul, aims to take KKR public in 2008.
32 Duncan Niederauer
CEO, NYSE Euronext
During his two decades at Goldman, Sachs & Co., Duncan Niederauer championed electronic trading, leading the firm’s 1999 investment in automated exchange operator Archipelago Holdings, subsequently acquired by the New York Stock Exchange under CEO John Thain, a former Goldman colleague. Niederauer, recruited as president of NYSE Euronext in April, stepped up to the top job when Thain left in November to head Merrill Lynch & Co. Niederauer presides over a powerhouse that operates huge stock and derivatives markets in the U.S. and Europe, but he must shore up the Big Board’s share of U.S. equity trading, which in 2007 dipped below 50 percent.
33 Robert Rubin
Executive committee chairman, Citigroup
Few Americans, much less financiers, command the respect accorded former U.S. Treasury secretary Robert Rubin. Even so, the shine on his reputation has dimmed over the past year thanks to the travails of Citigroup, where he serves with no (his emphasis) operational responsibilities — and publicly supported former CEO Charles Prince before his ouster. As interim chairman of Citi and head of its search committee, Rubin tapped Vikram Pandit as CEO and Sir Win Bischoff as chair, and speedily resumed his former role. Should Hillary Clinton win the presidency, key adviser Rubin would have a handy excuse to leave the bank and its woes behind.
34 Reto francioni
CEO, Deutsche Börse
The gregarious Swiss executive has been walking a tightrope since being named CEO of the world’s most profitable exchange in 2005, keeping Deutsche Börse charging ahead with revolutionary developments in the industry without riling the hedge fund shareholders who unseated his predecessor, Werner Seifert, and aborted Seifert’s bid for the London Stock Exchange. Francioni paid $2.8 billion in 2007 to acquire the International Securities Exchange and give Deutsche Börse a dominant franchise in stock options. He sidestepped demands for a shareholder vote from Atticus Capital, which holds an 11.9 percent stake in the German company, by conducting the transaction through futures subsidiary Eurex. Francioni is also looking to boost sales of Deutsche Börse’s Xetra trading technology, which is used in Dublin and Vienna and is being adopted by the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
35 Russell Read
Nineteen months after taking the reins at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the biggest U.S. public pension plan, with $261 billion in assets, Russell Read is making his mark. A former deputy CIO at Deutsche Asset Management, Read won board approval in December to slash CalPERS’s fixed-income and domestic-equities holdings and boost allocations in private equity, foreign stocks, real estate and infrastructure. A big-picture thinker with a doctorate in political economy from Stanford University and an MBA from the University of Chicago, Read sees the rise of China and other developing states transforming global markets, and he aims to keep CalPERS at the forefront of change.
36 Henri de Castries
Following in the footsteps of swashbuckling Claude Bébéar, who fashioned AXA through two decades of bold mergers, Henri de Castries has broadened the French insurer’s global franchise with targeted acquisitions, product innovation and rigorous attention to profitability. Astute additions of Mutual of New York in the U.S. in 2003 and Winterthur in Switzerland in 2006 have enabled AXA to narrow the gap with European insurance leader Allianz and buttress its position as the world’s third-biggest insurer. AXA shareholders can be grateful that rumors of de Castries’ ascension to France’s Finance ministry — he is a confidant of President Nicolas Sarkozy — proved off the mark.
37 Bader al-Sa’ad
Managing director, Kuwait Investment Authority
A college basketball player who played at the World University Games in 1979, Bader al-Sa’ad, 49, is executing an aggressive new game plan for the once-stodgy Kuwait Investment Authority. Taking a page from the playbook of Yale University’s legendary endowment manager David Swensen, al-Sa’ad has shifted KIA’s $213 billion portfolio — which a few years ago held mostly U.S. Treasuries — into real estate, emerging-markets and private equity stocks, including a
$700 million stake in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. His portfolio approach and relative transparency make KIA a model that Western governments would like to see other sovereign wealth funds adopt.
38 James Simons
Founder and president, Renaissance Technologies Corp.
The quants’ quant, Simons sets the standard for hedge fund performance while revealing few of his methods. A prize-winning mathematician and former code breaker, Simons and his team of more than 70 Ph.D.s have developed powerful algorithms and quantitative strategies that deliver staggering returns — his flagship Medallion Fund is up 36 percent a year after fees since 1988, and bounced back quickly from the credit market turmoil that slammed many quant funds in August — without leaving footprints in the dozens of markets where the firm trades. Renaissance now manages about $35 billion from 16 wooded acres in East Setauket, Long Island; Simons says its strategies could handle upwards of $100 billion.
39 Baudouin Prot
CEO, BNP Paribas
Quietly, but inexorably, Baudouin Prot has pushed BNP Paribas to the forefront of Europe’s consolidating banking industry. A 25-year veteran of the bank and CEO since 2003, Prot has grown the French group’s investment banking arm and extended its retail banking reach in Europe, most notably through the €9 billion ($13.2 billion) purchase of Italy’s Banca Nazionale del Lavoro in 2006. Although BNP’s decision to temporarily halt withdrawals from two hedge funds contributed to Europe’s liquidity crisis in August, Prot has maintained double-digit growth in earnings and avoided nasty subprime write-downs. With the second-largest market cap of any euro-zone bank, BNP is in prime shape to profit from the current crisis.
40 Roderick Munsters
Head of investments, Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP
With his bold diversification and aggressive activism, Munsters has turned ABP, the pension fund for Dutch public sector employees, into one of the world’s most influential investors. He is increasing the fund’s allocation to such alternatives as hedge funds and private equity to 26 percent, among the largest of any major retirement fund, and venturing into new assets, like timberland. Last year he led an attempt to force ABN Amro to get shareholder approval for its sale of LaSalle Bank, and sued Royal Dutch/Shell to prevent ABP from being shut out of any settlement with American investors over the oil company’s reserves shortfall.
41 William Gross
Managing director and co-CIO, Pacific Investment Management Co.
To investors looking for clues to the direction of interest rates, few opinions matter more than those of Bill Gross, who founded Pimco and has built it into the world’s biggest fixed-income manager, with $721 billion in assets. As manager of Pimco’s $112 billion Total Return fund, the world’s largest bond fund, Gross made a big early bet in 2006 against mortgage-backed securities that initially hurt results before proving dead-on. He has also helped to popularize investment in once-exotic areas such as emerging-markets bonds and Treasury-Inflation Protected Securities. Gross, 63, who says some of his best ideas come while standing on his head during his daily yoga routine, predicts further declines in home values, interest rates and the dollar.
42 Tony Tan Keng Yam
Executive director, Government of Singapore Investment Corp.
Over the years, Tony Yam has burnished GIC’s reputation as one of the world’s most astute, discreet and truly global portfolio investors. He also knows how to act strategically. The former Security and Defense minister, who manages well over $100 billion of reserves under the careful eyes of chairman Lee Kuan Yew, modern Singapore’s founder, and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, helped bail UBS out of its subprime woes in December by investing $9.7 billion for a 9 percent stake. Now Yam is calling for greater transparency by sovereign wealth funds in return for guarantees of nondiscrimination by Western governments.
43 Liu Mingkang
Chairman, China Banking Regulatory Commission
Since becoming chairman of the CBRC in 2003, Liu Mingkang, 61, has built the agency into a modern and professional regulatory body and established himself as the gatekeeper to the world’s biggest banks and fastest-growing banking market. Along with central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan, the University of London graduate stands out among the ascendant generation of foreign-trained technocrats and is the man just about everyone wants to see, from foreign bankers looking to expand in China to local lenders planning to extend their reach abroad. Both groups regard Liu as an advocate of greater financial liberalization whose influence extends well beyond that of a mere regulator.
44 Richard Fuld
Chairman and CEO, Lehman Brothers Holdings
Dick Fuld has transformed Lehman Brothers from a poorly capitalized, U.S. bond shop into a diversified global securities firm since becoming CEO. Now he’s building on that impressive turnaround by leading Lehman relatively unscathed through some of the roughest markets in generations. As peers such as E. Stanley O’Neal of Merrill Lynch & Co. and Citigroup’s Charles Prince were deposed for letting risk-taking get out of control and losing billions in credit markets, Fuld took a more hands-on approach, constantly stressing risk management to subordinates. That helped Lehman, a major mortgage-backed-securities underwriter, avoid multibillion-dollar write-downs. The firm posted record earnings of $4.2 billion last year.
45 Timothy Geithner
President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
As the Fed’s eyes and ears on Wall Street, Geithner has played a big role — albeit a less visible one than some of his predecessors did — in the central bank’s attempt to contain the subprime mortgage fiasco. After the credit crisis erupted in August, Geithner lobbied major banks to remove the stigma attached to borrowings from the Fed’s discount window and worked closely with chairman Ben Bernanke to coordinate the Fed’s December liquidity injections with those of other major central banks. A U.S. Treasury highflier during the Clinton administration, Geithner, 46, has also been prodding banks to reduce risk by cutting down backlogs in processing derivatives trades.
46 Hector Sants
CEO, Financial Services Authority
As a market-friendly regulator with a light touch, Sants is a major reason for London’s growing clout as a financial center. The London Stock Exchange attracted a total of 241 IPOs worth $43.2 billion in 2007, exceeding the New York Stock Exchange’s IPO volume of $34.5 billion and prompting U.S. officials to consider a more principles-based approach. But the pendulum may be shifting in the U.K. after the government’s messy bailout of Northern Rock in September revealed poor coordination among the FSA, the Treasury and the Bank of England. Sants, a former investment banker, is considering tightening disclosure requirements for companies seeking U.K. listings.
47 Fang Fenglei
Chairman, Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities Co.
When Goldman wanted to set up an investment bank in China, it turned to Fang, the best-connected deal maker in the country, to lead its joint venture, Goldman Sachs Gao Hua. The 55-year-old banker is now blazing a new trail, pulling back from an operational role with Goldman to pioneer a Chinese private equity industry with two ventures: a $2 billion fund half-funded by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, and a $1.4 billion domestic venture with state-backed Suzhou Ventures Group. Foreign buyout firms have found it difficult to close transactions in China, but the smart money is betting on Fang’s political ties to help him win deals that foreign buyout firms — even Goldman — can’t touch.
48 Laurence Fink
Chairman and CEO, BlackRock
For a while mortgage-backed-securities pioneer and investing impresario Larry Fink, who founded the $1.3 billion fixed-income money management specialist at the age of 29 in 1988, appeared to be the front-runner to become the savior CEO for Merrill Lynch & Co., which ended up choosing John Thain instead. But Merrill’s loss was also Merrill’s gain, since the giant brokerage owns 49.8 percent of BlackRock. Fink’s firm, which received a rare black eye after suspending redemptions in an enhanced cash fund, is looking to profit from the credit crisis by creating funds to cherry-pick distressed mortgage assets. It even stepped in to take over the running of Florida’s troubled cash investment fund.
49 Wang Dongming
Chairman, Citic Securities
Wang has taken advantage of China’s booming stock market to make Citic the country’s leading equity underwriter, most profitable brokerage and biggest asset manager. Now he’s looking to become a global player. In October, Wang orchestrated Citic’s first strategic overseas investment by striking a cross-shareholding agreement with Bear, Stearns & Co., under which Citic will buy $1 billion of bonds convertible into a 6 percent stake in the U.S. firm. The companies plan to merge their Asian capital markets operations. Some expect Citic to eventually take over the U.S. firm.
50 Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
Chairman, Kingdom Holding Co.
If imitation is the sincerest form of you know what, then the Gulf’s biggest private investor, Prince Alwaleed, ought to be flattered. His 17-year-old investment in Citigroup set the benchmark that today’s sovereign wealth funds hope to match with their financial purchases. True, his 3.9 percent stake has lost a third of its value in recent months, and he has been overtaken by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which spent $7.5 billion for 4.9 percent of Citi, but he has made billions on his investment. Alwaleed, a nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, is focusing on emerging markets these days and floated Kingdom Holding with a $2.3 billion IPO in July.
51 Nobuo Kuroyanagi
President and CEO, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
Despite Japan’s domestic credit troubles and softening economy, Nobuo Kuroyanagi continues to keep Mitsubishi UFJ at the top of the country’s banking industry. Write-offs on credit card lending stemming from a regulatory tightening in Japan contributed to a 49 percent drop in profits in the six months ended in September, but Mitsubishi UFJ — Japan’s biggest bank by assets and market capitalization — largely avoided the hefty subprime losses suffered by its megabank rivals. Kuroyanagi is increasingly looking to countries like China, India and Malaysia for the kind of growth that remains elusive at home.
52 Robert Greifeld
CEO, Nasdaq Stock Market
After becoming CEO in May 2003, Bob Greifeld injected a new dynamism into a market reeling since the collapse of the technology bubble. He shut down money-losing joint ventures in Europe and Asia and shored up Nasdaq’s core U.S. trading business by acquiring the electronic exchanges Brut ECN and Inet. Though he failed in his high-profile bid for the London Stock Exchange, a recent deal to buy Nordic exchange operator OMX gives Nasdaq a European presence and a partnership with Borse Dubai to develop exchanges in the Middle East and Asia. In addition, late last year Greifeld bought the Philadelphia and Boston stock exchanges, giving Nasdaq an options business and a clearing license.
53 K. Vaman Kamath
CEO, ICICI Bank
K. Vaman Kamath has changed the face of consumer banking in India, making ICICI the country’s most dynamic lender and its biggest by market capitalization, with a value of $38.4 billion. Energetic and visionary, the 60-year-old banker has used state-of-the-art technology and aggressive marketing to build strong franchises in retail banking, fund management and insurance. Now he’s trying to take his formula abroad, targeting Indian expatriate communities in the U.K. and Canada with an online banking subsidiary. Kamath aims to nearly double the bank’s overseas business in the next few years, growing it to as much as 35 percent of total assets.
54 Robert Diamond Jr.
CEO, Barclays Capital and Barclays Global Investors
In a little more than a decade, Bob Diamond turned a nonentity into an investment banking powerhouse by overturning conventional wisdom and steering clear of equities. Our of nowhere, Barcap now ranks as Europe’s second-biggest bond underwriter and is an increasing force globally. Diamond also oversees Barclays Global Investors, the world’s biggest money management business. Together his businesses generate more than half the profits at Barclays. His apparent avoidance of big subprime write-downs and deft distancing from the bank’s failed takeover bid for ABN Amro have merely added to his luster.
55 David Swensen
CIO, Yale University Investments Office
Over the past two decades at Yale, David Swensen has revolutionized the way universities and other institutions manage their money. A protégé of the late Nobel Prize–winning economist James Tobin, Swensen was early to embrace hedge funds, private equity and other alternatives. He has generated average annual returns of 15.6 percent for the past 20 years — and a whopping 28.0 percent in the 12 months ended June 2007 — as the Ivy League school assembled America’s second-richest endowment to rank at $22.5 billion, behind archrival Harvard’s $35 billion. “David’s disciples” — the legion of managers who once worked for him — include the investment chiefs at Bowdoin
College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University.
56 Charlie McCreevy
Internal market and services commissioner, European Union
Europe owes its growing financial clout in no small part to McCreevy’s light and carefully targeted regulatory touch. In November the former Irish Finance minister successfully ushered into force the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, which is already heating up competition among Europe’s stock exchanges by pushing brokers to obtain — and demonstrate — best execution for their clients, just as Reg NMS did in the U.S. Now McCreevy aims to shrink Europe’s high clearing and settlement costs by prodding its many clearers to open up access to rivals and make their systems interoperable. Europe’s investors will be only too happy if he succeeds.
57 Yngve Slyngstad
Executive director, Norges Bank Investment Management
He’s hardly a household name, but Yngve Slyngstad, who as the new boss of NBIM will oversee Norway’s Government Pension Fund-Global, will be soon enough. The 46-year-old economist, who was running equities for the fund from London, moves to Oslo this month to take control of the entire $358 billion portfolio, as well as most of Norway’s foreign exchange reserves. The Norwegian fund’s stunning growth over the past decade has made it a model for today’s burgeoning sovereign wealth funds. Slyngstad aims to stay in the vanguard by pushing the fund into alternative assets like private equity and real estate, and expanding its equity holdings to more than 7,000 companies around the world from 3,000 currently.
58 Clara Furse
CEO, London Stock Exchange
Never underestimate this woman: Clara Furse has fended off more suitors over the past seven years than most CEOs will ever see — Deutsche Börse, Euronext, Nasdaq, OMX and Macquarie Group. And she did it while turning the LSE into a leading player in the global IPO business, prompting financiers and politicians in New York to worry that the Big Apple’s best days might be over. The recent acquisition of Borsa Italiana, operator of the Milan exchange, has given Furse friendly Italian shareholders and some much-needed derivatives business, but she is still at least one big deal away from being able to rival bigger competitors like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Börse.
59 Guo Shuqing
Chairman, China Construction Bank
Few of China’s leaders are moving more quickly onto the global stage than Guo Shuqing, a former central bank vice governor. China Construction Bank was struggling with its legacy of nonperforming loans when Guo took over in 2005. Today it’s the most profitable of China’s big four state banks and the world’s second-biggest bank by market capitalization, trailing only Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The first big bank to sell shares, with a $9.2 billion IPO in Hong Kong in 2005, CCB raised $7.7 billion more in September in Shanghai. Guo aims to plow those funds overseas by opening branches in Vietnam, the U.S., the U.K. and the Middle East.
60 Steven Cohen
Founder and CEO, SAC Capital Advisors
Steven Cohen, who has built SAC into a $12 billion powerhouse, has a clout that few can match on Wall Street. The firm’s high-volume, long-short equity trading reportedly accounts for as much as 2 percent of U.S. stock market volume, and SAC pays more in brokerage commissions each year than many professional investors manage. Cohen can well afford the expenses. His main fund, SAC Capital Management, has generated average annual returns of 43.5 percent from 1992 through 2006 and charges performance fees of as much as 50 percent. The 51-year-old Cohen is worth an estimated $3 billion and shows no sign of easing up.
61 Robert Zoellick
President, World Bank
As a Bush loyalist replacing Paul Wolfowitz as World Bank president, Robert Zoellick faces an uphill struggle to restore the bank’s reputation and relevance as the world’s biggest development lender. Yet the former U.S. Trade Representative and deputy secretary of State has made a good start in his first six months, cutting lending rates to countries like Brazil and China, committing more capital to Africa and endorsing the anticorruption recommendations of former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker. In the next three years, Zoellick wants to raise $40 billion for the 81 poorest countries. With many donor countries now bypassing the bank, the 54-year-old will have to restore lots more luster to pull it off.
62 David Viniar
CFO, Goldman Sachs Group
Anyone can make a big bet, but not just anyone can stop a big bet from being made — or so it would seem, judging by the mammoth losses suffered on Wall Street last year. It’s up to David Viniar, who as CFO is the chief risk manager for the most daring of Wall Street trading houses, to make tough calls. In December 2006, months before the first wave of subprime-mortgage-related losses surfaced, Viniar led the unwinding of the firm’s mortgage exposure and the placing of a series of bets against the sector that helped Goldman boost its earnings 21.6 percent to a record $11.6 billion last year, while many of its competitors lost billions.
63 Eric Knight
CEO and CIO, Knight Vinke Asset Management
Targeted activism and powerful allies like pension giant CalPERS allow Eric Knight to wield far greater influence over corporate Europe than the $400 million run by his firm might suggest. From his base in Monaco, the savvy investor has led demands for a corporate restructuring at Royal Dutch/Shell Group and forced French utility Suez to modify its merger with state-owned Gaz de France to boost shareholder returns. Now he’s taking on banking giant HSBC Holdings by demanding a sharper emerging-markets strategy. HSBC chairman Stephen Green might refuse to meet with Knight, but he certainly won’t ignore him.
64 Alessandro Profumo
CEO, UniCredit Group
Over a decade, Alessandro Profumo has transformed UniCredit Group from a loose confederation of Italian lenders into a pan-European retail banking leader, an extraordinary accomplishment in a country whose banking system long resisted modernization. The former McKinsey & Co. consultant has been a bold acquirer, paying €19 billion ($23 billion) for Germany’s HVB Group in 2005, a deal that gave UniCredit the largest network in Central and Eastern Europe. His €21.8 billion purchase of Capitalia last year bolstered the bank’s domestic position.
65 Shang Fulin
Chairman, China Securities Regulatory Commission
A driving force for the liberalization of China’s financial markets, Shang’s 2005 reforms to eliminate the massive overhang of nontradable shares in Chinese companies ended a five-year slump and unleashed the world’s biggest stock market surge. Now Shang is looking to deepen China’s markets by promoting the development of stock index futures, commodities trading, small-cap stocks and a corporate bond market. He also wants to entice foreign companies to list in Shanghai. Given the share-price multiples his reforms have produced, that shouldn’t be a hard sell.
66 Michael Moritz
Partner, Sequoia Capital
Talk about smart money. In 1995, Michael Moritz had a hunch that an Internet search engine company called Yahoo!, run by two graduate students from a trailer behind the computer sciences building at Stanford University, could become a media empire. Four years later he backed another pair of former Stanford grad students with their odd-sounding search engine: Sequoia’s $12.5 million investment in Google has increased more than 1,000-fold, making Moritz, 52, one of the world’s wealthiest — and most powerful — technology financiers.
67 Daniel Bouton
Chairman and CEO, Société Générale
Bouton’s steady hand has enabled the French bank to prosper rather than become takeover bait, as seemed likely at the start of the decade. Société Générale’s investment banking arm, led by Jean-Pierre Mustier, has generated some of the juiciest profit margins in the industry by focusing on equity derivatives and avoiding credit mistakes. Bouton’s early retail banking investments in Eastern Europe are paying off handsomely and serving as a launchpad for the bank’s new push into Russia. If SocGen ends up merging with rival BNP Paribas, it will do so from a position of strength.
68 Andrei Kostin
Chairman and CEO, VTB Bank
Since taking over the former Soviet trade bank Vneshtorgbank in 2002, Kostin has built the renamed VTB into Russia’s leading universal bank, with a fast-growing domestic retail franchise and a budding investment bank. Close ties to the Kremlin — former diplomat Kostin is an ally of President Vladimir Putin — aided VTB’s rise, while the bank’s $8 billion IPO in May 2007 gave Kostin the means and credibility to pursue his international ambitions. He has been hiring aggressively to build an investment banking presence in London, and plans to have branches in 21 countries by mid-2008.
69 Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Managing director, International Monetary Fund
Strauss-Kahn proved his mettle as French Finance minister in the late 1990s by overcoming budget deficits and political opposition to ensure France’s adoption of the euro. Now DSK, as he is known, faces an equally daunting challenge: maintaining the relevance and legitimacy of the International Monetary Fund, where he took over in November. Few countries need the IMF’s money these days, so the 58-year-old economist plans to cut the fund’s payroll and accelerate reforms aimed at making the IMF a global financial watchdog. He will need all his political skills to make his voice heard.
70 Rupert Murdoch
Chairman and CEO, News Corp.
The world’s most influential business newspaper will no longer be the same now that media baron Rupert Murdoch has wrapped Dow Jones & Co. into his empire. Murdoch, who has coveted Dow Jones’s flagship title, The Wall Street Journal, for years, formally won his prize in December and is expected to gradually refashion the respected daily with shorter stories and a more intense focus on politics, positioning it to compete as a national daily in the U.S. against The New York Times. Murdoch last year also launched Fox Business News as a competitor to CNBC.
71 Robert Bertram
Executive vice president of investments, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
The first and only investment chief at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Canada’s biggest, Robert Bertram continues to chalk up an enviable record of performance and innovation. A former treasurer of Alberta phone company Telus Corp., Bertram, 63, has systematically reduced the fund’s equities exposure while plowing money into private equity, venture capital, infrastructure and real estate. He has also helped pioneer risk budgeting and liability-driven investing. Teachers’ has posted the best performance of any Canadian pension fund every year since its start in 1990, averaged an annual return of 11.8 percent and grown assets more than fivefold, to C$106 billion ($107.1 billion).
72 Robert Setubal
CEO, Banco Itaú
Riding Brazil’s economic boom, Roberto Setubal is aggressively expanding the reach of Banco Itaú, the country’s biggest bank by market capitalization. The scion of one of the bank’s two controlling families, Setubal snapped up Bank of America’s subsidiaries in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay in a 2006 stock swap that gave BofA a 7.5 percent stake and broadened Itaú’s regional footprint. Now he’s looking to acquire the Latin private banking assets of Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria and readying a billion-dollar hedge fund, a first for a Brazilian bank.
73 Christer Gardell
Managing partner, Cevian Capital
The competitive, 47-year-old tennis buff has shaken up Scandinavia with his successful shareholder activism. Now Christer Gardell and his partner in Stockholm-based Cevian, Lars Förberg, are broadening their sights to Europe at large. Two years ago the duo forced the sale of Sweden’s largest insurer, Skandia, to South Africa’s Old Mutual; in 2007 they pushed Swedish truck maker Volvo to increase its dividend and pushed out the CEO of Swedish-Finnish telecom operator TeliaSonera. In December, Cevian, which has €3.5 billion ($5.1 billion) in assets and has returned 45.4 percent annually since its founding in 2002, disclosed a 3 percent stake in reinsurer Munich Re.
74 Yoshifumi Nishikawa
President, Japan Post Holdings
Yoshifumi Nishikawa used aggressive cost-cutting and a merger to steer Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group back to health earlier this decade. Now the revered 68-year-old banker faces an even bigger challenge: turning Japan Post into a profitable industrial and financial giant. Japan Post Bank, split off in an October restructuring in preparation for its privatization in 2010, is the world’s biggest bank by assets, with some $3 trillion. Nishikawa plans to diversify into higher-yielding assets than Japanese government bonds and to compete with commercial banks in mortgages and credit cards. If he succeeds, Japanese banking will never be the same.
75 Robert Herz
Chairman, Financial Accounting Standards Board
Since taking over in 2002 amid the Enron-era wave of accounting frauds, Robert Herz has been shaking up the Financial Accounting Standards Board — and corporate America. Championing fair-value accounting, Herz has reduced the leeway executives once had to fiddle with the books by requiring them to assign market values to many assets whose worth was previously estimated. Wall Street executives can thank Herz’s FAS No. 157 for forcing them to take write-downs on subprime mortgage securities. Herz’s current campaign to meld U.S. generally accepted accounting principles with principles-based International Financial Reporting Standards aims to bolster the competitiveness of U.S. markets.