Lazard appoints Peter Orszag to succeed Ken Jacobs as CEO

Lazard announced on Friday that Peter Orszag, who runs its core financial advisory business, will succeed Ken Jacobs as the company’s chief executive on Oct. 1. Mr. Jacobs will remain as Executive Chairman and continue to advise clients.

Mr. Orszag, a former Obama administration official, will oversee a 175-year-old financial institution with a long history of advising on large corporate transactions at a time when its core business faces enormous challenges.

“During his career spanning both banking and government, Peter has proven himself to be a strategic, visionary and decisive leader, with deep relationships across industry and the ability to effectively lead Lazard across markets. changing worlds and complex geopolitical dynamics,” Richard Parsons, the company’s lead independent director, said in a statement.

Lazard did not say when his succession planning began, but Mr Orszag, 54, wrote in a memo to employees on Friday that the move followed a “selection process that has been ongoing for some time”.

An economist by training, Mr. Orszag appears regularly on CNBC and Bloomberg Television. He rose through the ranks in Washington and on Wall Street – he worked for Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as at Citigroup – giving him valuable experience running one of the world’s most important independent banks.

But he will face a difficult period for investment banks. Through Thursday, dealmaking this year was down 40% from a year ago, according to Refinitiv. And rising interest rates, increasingly stringent antitrust enforcement and a slowing economy make a resurgence in expensive mergers and acquisitions unlikely anytime soon.

The tough environment has hit Lazard, which said last month it was laying off 10% of its workforce; the bank’s shares have fallen 11% since then. Rivals like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have also downsized.

In the memo to colleagues on Friday morning, Orszag said the firm’s ambition “should be to become the leading independent, global and go-to destination on all aspects of complex corporate finance, investment and strategic decision-making”.

One of Mr. Orszag’s top priorities is to grow Lazard’s asset management business, which oversees more than $200 billion in assets and accounts for 40% of its business. Asset management has become popular among Wall Street banks as a stable revenue stream that can offset the volatility of investment banking; Mr. Orszag told employees that the growth could come from acquisitions.

Mr. Orszag also said Lazard’s investment banking business would seek growth opportunities in private capital markets and through work in the Middle East.

Among his other priorities are “attracting and retaining top talent through a modern workplace that includes our technology platform, diversity and the flexibility of working from home,” Mr. Orszag said.

The firm will announce further leadership changes before October.


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