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Weill, Sanford I.


WEILL, SANFORD I. (1933– ), U.S. banker, financier, and philanthropist. The son of Polish immigrants, Weill was born in Brooklyn, n.y. When his parents could not find housing, they enrolled him at the Peekskill Military Academy. He attended Cornell University, where he was a member of the Air Force rotc. Although he wanted to be a pilot, that was not to be. In 1955 he got his first job on Wall Street as a runner for Bear Stearns. While there he became friends with Arthur Carter, who was working at Lehman Brothers, and he became a licensed broker. In 1960, Carter, Roger Berlind, Peter Potoma, and Weill formed Carter, Berlind, Potoma & Weill. After the New York Stock Exchange brought disciplinary proceedings against Potoma, he left the firm. In 1968 the firm became Cogan, Berlind, Weill & Levitt (Marshall Cogan, Roger Berlind, who later became a Broadway producer, Arthur Levitt). Weill was chairman from 1965 to 1984, a period in which the firm completed over 15 acquisitions to become the country's second largest securities brokerage firm. The company became cbwl-Hayden, Stone in 1970, Hayden Stone in 1972, Shearson Hayden Stone in 1974, when it merged with Shearson Hammill & Co., and Shearson Loeb Rhoades in 1979, when it merged with Loeb Rhoades Hornblower. With capital totaling $250 million, Shearson Loeb Rhoades trailed only Merrill Lynch as the securities brokerage industry's largest firm. In 1981 Weill sold the company to American Express for about $930 million in stock. He began serving as president of American Express in 1983 and as chairman and chief executive of its insurance subsidiary, Fireman's Fund Insurance, in 1984. Frustrated with the direction of the company, Weill quit American Express in 1985. The following year he went to Minneapolis to persuade Control Data to spin off its subsidiary, Commercial Credit, in a public offering worth $850 million. Weill took over as chief executive, investing $7 million of his own money. He also acquired its subsidiary, a property and casualty insurance concern called Gulf Insurance. By 1988 Weill and his team had turned Commercial Credit around and acquired the Primerica Corporation for $1.5 billion along with its holdings, the brokerage Smith Barney and the A.L. Williams insurance company, renamed Primerica Financial Services. Over the next two years Primerica absorbed the consumer lending operations of Barclays American/Financial. In 1992 alone, Primerica raised $625 million by selling nonstrategic assets. Weill then bought 27 percent of Travelers Insurance for $722 billion. He personally earned $67.6 million that year, most of it from stock options, making him the second highest-paid executive in the United States. The following year Weill realized an old dream. He regained control of Shearson (now Shearson Lehman), buying it back from American Express for $1.2 billion. By doing so, he acquired Shearson's 8,400 brokers and state-of-the-art back office, while leaving behind Shearson's litigation liability. In 1996 Weill added to his holdings, at a cost of $4 billion, the property and casualty operations of Aetna Life & Casualty, and the following year he acquired Salomon, the parent company of Salomon Brothers, for over $9 billion in stock. In April 1998 Travelers announced an agreement to undertake the $76 billion merger between Travelers and Citicorp, the parent company of Citibank, to create Citigroup. Citicorp was the world's largest supplier of credit cards, and Citibank was the second largest bank in the United States. At the beginning of the day the merger was announced, the two companies were valued at $70.6 billion. By the end of the day the value had jumped to $83.6 billion. In 2002 the company was rocked by a wave of scandals that followed the stock market downturn. Weill was replaced as chief executive of Citigroup in 2003. He served as chairman until 2006. Weill's career was also marked by extensive philanthropy. He endowed Cornell's medical school in 1998 with a $100 million pledge, and it was named the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences. As chairman of Carnegie Hall he raised $60 million for renovation of its facilities, and one of the concert halls is named for him. He was the principal sponsor of the High School of Economics and Finance in New York and worked with the Disney Company to create, at the children's museum in Baltimore, Md., a game to teach youngsters about capitalism.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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