Morning Coffee: The new bank CEO who may have anger issues. M&A banker goes AWOL
The rumblings concerning Andrea Orcel and his polarizing personality began almost immediately after UBS’s investment banking chief agreed to become the new CEO of Spanish bank Santander. One anonymous UBS employee told the FT at the time that Orcel is “the best banker I’ve ever worked with and the worst manager I’ve ever seen.” Now that Orcel has officially left the Swiss bank, the gloves are really coming off.
Sporting the headline, “Angry management: The dark side of Santander’s new boss,” Financial News touched on two previously unreported incidents at UBS where Orcel became enraged with both his direct reports and colleagues. Earlier this year, Orcel held a meeting with his department heads over potential cost-cutting strategies and was reportedly stunned when a well-regarded but relatively new employee noted that the investment bank also needed to identify areas for growth. Apparently taking the comment as an open refusal to abide by his mandate, Orcel “exploded,” publicly screaming at veteran dealmaker Joe Reece until he stood up to walk out, at which time Orcel continued his “verbal assault,” according to the report. The details of the encounter were escalated to human resources as well as UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti. Reece has since left the bank.
Several years earlier, soon after joining UBS in 2012, Orcel was working on a share sell for a Russian bank and wanted UBS’s wealth management unit to market the bonds to its clients, in part, to help ensure the deal went smoothly. When the unit decided against endorsing the bonds in its marketing to customers – and then other banks' clients ate them up – Orcel reportedly demanded that executives within the wealth management unit be punished and made an example of, fueling resentment across the bank. Those who disagreed with Orcel were “effectively sidelined or silenced,” sources told the outlet. He even ruffled the feathers of his former boss, Ermotti, when Orcel went on record stating he coveted the top job at UBS – a highly unusual move.
Despite the depiction, Orcel earned due credit for turning around UBS’s investment bank, making it more efficient while also retaining top dealmakers and landing big-name clients. Orcel is known for his legendary work ethic and pushing bankers to meet his hours. He’ll likely shake up Santander as he did UBS. How his style will be received appears an open question. Rarely do such a large number of employees talk so frankly to the press following the departure of their boss.
Elsewhere, Bank of America executives are becoming increasingly concerned over the performance and perception of its investment bank, particularly following news of the impending departure of its longtime head, Christian Meissner, who is reportedly leaving over disagreements with the firm’s conservative approach. However, some insiders told the FT that part of the problem has been the tribal management style of Meissner and his deputy, Diego De Giorgi. Bankers who didn’t appear loyal to the duo reportedly found themselves on the outside looking in.
Either way, the drama surrounding Bank of America doesn’t appear to be new. At least 28 managing directors have left its investment bank since 2017, according to the Wall Street Journal. Even more eye-opening is a tidbit from the FT, noting that De Giorgi has rarely been seen in the bank's offices in New York and London over the past 18 months(!). Additional changes may soon be coming to BofA’s investment bank.
The New York Post wrote an exposé on Nicolas DeMeyer, the former personal assistant to the family of Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon who jumped to his death from a New York City hotel last week, just minutes before he was supposed to appear in court to face charges that he stole $1.2 million in vintage wines from his former boss. He was described as “charming” but also “mysterious,” according to interviews. “It’s so weird how little you know someone,” Solomon reportedly told a friend last week after learning of DeMeyer’s death. (NY Post)
Behind the imminent bankruptcy of Sears is the story of hedge fund billionaire Edward Lampert, who lost big-name client after big-name client as he hung on to his enormous investment in the retail giant. Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments, hold almost 50% of Sears shares. (Bloomberg)
Barclays is launching a U.S. digital consumer bank that will compete with Marcus from Goldman Sachs. Expect Barclays to make a host of tech hires before the online bank launches next year. (FT)
Former Goldman Sachs president and ex-White House economic aide Gary Cohn has reportedly joined blockchain startup Spring Labs as an advisor. (Bloomberg)
A key weekend of Brexit negotiations failed to create any traction that could lead toward a deal between the U.K. and the EU. In fact, EU diplomats cancelled and already-scheduled Monday meeting. (Bloomberg)
Uber quietly maintains an in-house think tank filled with more than a dozen quants, data scientists and economists. The team, known internally as Ubernomics, supports the company’s massive public policy needs. (Quartz)
Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey offered some career advice to departing Square CFO Sarah Friar, who has been named the new chief executive of social network Nextdoor. “Defining your own path is made possible only through a series of failures, some big, some small. Hide none of them," he told her. And “don’t take things personally.” Square investors sure have a lot of love for Friar. The fintech company’s stock tumbled 16% following the news of her departure. (CNBC)
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