This content is from: Home

Why Lewis chose Lazard

When Bill Lewis, a 24-year veteran Morgan Stanley banker, left the firm last month for mergers adviser Lazard, his motives seemed obvious to many.

Morgan Stanley had just gone through a sweeping reorganization of its senior bankers, and Lewis's former co-head of M&A, Gary Parr, had decamped several months earlier to become Lazard's deputy chairman. Less well known, but no less important, was the presence at Lazard of Vernon Jordan, celebrated Washington power broker and close friend of former president Bill Clinton.

"Vernon has been a mentor to me," confides Lewis. "To be able to call Vernon my partner -- I can't begin to describe the joy and elation."

Lewis, 47, is also looking forward to joining a small partnership that is focused on -- and renowned for -- the corporate advisory work he's made a career of. Even as he rose to management positions at Morgan Stanley, which during his tenure grew from a relatively small private company into a giant, publicly traded financial conglomerate, Lewis considered himself above all else a merger banker, guiding the CEOs of companies like Union Carbide and Whirlpool through the delicate, legacy-defining process of combining with other businesses.

"It did feel a little weird, because I was at Morgan Stanley for 24 years," says Lewis of his move. "But I believe that Lazard today represents the best platform to do what I grew up doing, which is principally being a trusted M&A adviser."

As for the December reorganization at Morgan Stanley, which moved him out of his role as co-head of global banking and onto a team of senior bankers dealing exclusively with high-level clients, Lewis says he welcomed the chance to work solely with clients, which is also his job description at Lazard.

"As far as management goes," he says, "I look forward to being responsible for one person, and that is my assistant."