Wasserstein, Bruce

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WASSERSTEIN, BRUCE (1948– ), U.S. entrepreneur. Wasserstein, who was born in Brooklyn, n.y., graduated from the University of Michigan and then earned two degrees from Harvard, one from the business school and one from the law school. In addition he was a Knox traveling fellow at Cambridge University, earning a graduate diploma in comparative legal studies in economic regulation. Wasserstein's first job was at the white-shoe law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, but he was recruited by Joseph R. Perella to join the First Boston Corporation in 1977. Two years later Perella stunned his boss by asking him to make Wasserstein co-head of mergers and acquisitions, his equal. In 1988 the pair formed Wasserstein, Perella & Company, which became one of the most prominent mergers-and-acquisitions advisers. They helped broker more than 1,000 transactions worth $250 billion, including Texaco's acquisition of Getty Oil. When Perella left the firm in 1993, he sold all his stock, although, for contractual reasons, his name stayed on the door. In 1992 the firm took Maybelline, a cosmetics company, private and then spun it off in a public offering in 1992. In 1994 the firm owned Collins & Aikman, an automotive supplies maker that filed for bankruptcy protection. In 2000, at the top of a bull market, Wasserstein sold his boutique investment bank Wasserstein, Perella to Germany's Dresdner Bank for $1.5 billion. Wasserstein pocketed more than $600 million on the deal. Over the years, Wasserstein wrote four books: With Justice for Some: An Indictment of the Law by Young Advocates (1972), Corporate Finance Law (1978), Big Deal: The Battle for the Control of America's Leading Corporations (1988), and Big Deal: Mergers and Acquisitions in the Digital Age (2001). He also had a hand in publishing, owning American Lawyer Media's collection of 29 legal newspapers and magazines around the country, and The Deal, a publication covering the mergers marketplace. In 2004 he added New York magazine to his media empire. After Wasserstein left the Dresdner Bank, he took the top position at Lazard Frères, the famously secretive investment bank. Michel David-Weill, the patriarch of Lazard, and Wasserstein had a public feud over the direction of the firm. In 2005 Wasserstein succeeded in taking Lazard public after David-Weill was bought out. Wasserstein and Lazard made a substantial profit on the initial deal.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]