November 23, 1932 |
He is the son of Berthe Haardt and Lazard Frères chairman Pierre David-Weill (1900–1975). During the last year of Nazi occupation, at age 11, he had to hide with his mother and younger sister, in a French village called Béduer (Lot, south-western France). After World War II was over, he went to live in New York City with his family. He was educated at the Lycée Français de New York and l'Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris. In 1956, he married Hélène Marie Lehideux, with whom he has four children.
By inheriting equity stake, he became the largest stake holder in both Lazard New York and Lazard Paris, while also holding stakes in Lazard London. Following the 1977 retirement of André Meyer, Michel David-Weill became chairman of Lazard—working closely with managing director, Felix Rohatyn, who, like David-Weill, was also made senior partner at Lazard in 1961. Also, by the power provided in clause 4.1 of Lazard partnership agreement, he alone had the power to set compensations and had the right to fire any partners at his discretion.
Under David-Weill's direction, Lazard began to expand its business from traditional M&A advising to areas such as asset management and municipal bond. He also made numerous hires, including Steven Rattner. Lazard's profits also jumped from $5 million in the late 70s to $500 million in the late 90s.
David-Weill also re-united the branches of Lazard by combining his stakes in New York and Paris and buyout Pearson for its stake in Lazard London for more than $600 million.
After the retirement of Rohatyn, the firm's most prominent deal maker, however, Lazard under David-Weill's leadership began to take a turn for the worse. Other deal makers such as Ira Harris and Rattner also left the firm.
In order to resurrect his fortune, David-Weill made the fateful choice of hiring Bruce Wasserstein as CEO. Wasserstein, however, later decided to put Lazard up for IPO, against the wish of the family patriarch. For that reason, David-Weill has stated that he regretted ever having hired Wasserstein.
David-Weill is currently a director of Groupe Danone, one of the world's largest food-product companies.
- Danzgier, Danny (2007). Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Penguin. p. 61. ISBN 9780143114260.
- Teitelman, Robert (2001). "Michel David-Weill". In Ellis, Charles D.; Vertin, James R. Wall Street People: True Stories of Today's Masters and Moguls. New York: Wiley & Sons. p. 281. ISBN 0471221066.