John Gutfreund

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This article is about a banker. For other people, see Gutfreund.
John Gutfreund
John Gutfreund.jpg
Born John Halle Gutfreund
(1929-09-14)September 14, 1929
Scarsdale, New York
Died March 9, 2016(2016-03-09) (aged 86)
Manhattan, New York City
Nationality American
Ethnicity Jewish
Alma mater Oberlin College
Occupation Investment banker, businessman and investor
Employer Salomon Brothers
Spouse(s) Joyce Low (3 sons)
Susan Penn (1 son)

John Halle Gutfreund (14 September 1929 – 9 March 2016) was an American banker, businessman and investor. He was the CEO of Salomon Brothers Inc, an investment bank that gained notoriety in the 1980s. Gutfreund turned Salomon Brothers from a private partnership into a publicly traded corporation [1] which started a trend in Wall Street for investment companies to go public.[2] He became an icon for the excess that defined the 1980s culture in America. In 1985, Business Week gave him the nickname "King of Wall Street".[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Gutfreund grew up in a Jewish family[4] in Scarsdale, a suburb of New York City. His father, Manuel Gutfreund, was the owner of a prosperous trucking company. He attended the Lawrenceville School.[5] In 1951, Gutfreund graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio with a degree in English.[6] He considered teaching literature but instead joined the Army. In 1953, he was discharged. His father belonged to the Century Country Club in Purchase, New York (which was at the time a center for the German Jewish establishment) where he often golfed with William (Billy) Salomon, the son of Percy Salomon, one of the three founding brothers of Salomon Brothers. At Billy Salomon's invitation, the young Gutfreund joined Salomon Brothers as a trainee in the statistical department.[7]

Career[edit]

After several months, Gutfreund became a clerk in the municipal bond department, eventually becoming a trader. He rose quickly through the company and became a full partner at the age of thirty four.[7] In 1978, Billy Salomon named Gutfreund to succeed him as head of the firm,[8] becoming the highest paid Wall Street executive at the time. Besides his executive office on the 43rd floor of One New York Plaza, Gutfreund frequently occupied a two-person desk at the head of the massive, double-decker 42nd floor fixed income trading floor.

When Gutfreund was CEO of Salomon Brothers, a major scandal took place regarding the way Treasury bond trading was done by Salomon. Paul Mozer, head of the Government Bond desk, was submitting bids in excess of what was allowed by the Treasury rules. When this was discovered and brought to the attention of Gutfreund, he did not immediately suspend Mr. Mozer.[9] The exposure of Mr. Mozer's repeated violations of U.S. government bond auction rules resulted in a significant scandal during which regulators and some politicians called on the firm to be stripped of its Primary Dealer status. This action would have threatened the survival of the firm, then the largest participant in the U.S. government and mortgage bond trading markets. Warren Buffett, who through Berkshire Hathaway had recently acquired a $900 million preferred equity position in Salomon, actively intervened to protect his investment, including briefly serving as CEO of Salomon Brothers.[3] As a result of the scandal, Gutfreund and other senior managers of Salomon were forced to resign in 1991.[10]

From January 2002, Gutfreund was Senior Managing Director and Executive Committee Member of the investment bank C.E. Unterberg, Towbin. He was also President of Gutfreund & Company, a New York-based financial consulting firm that specialized in advising corporations and financial institutions in the US, Europe and Asia.[11][12]

Legacy[edit]

Gutfreund was featured prominently in the 1989 book Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis, a former employee of Salomon. Gutfreund would later tell Lewis that "Your fucking book destroyed my career, and it made yours."[1]

The UJA-Federation of New York honored him for his charitable activities and contributions.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Gutfreund was married twice:

Gutfreund died on 9 March 2016, aged 86.[19][20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Michael Lewis, The End, Portfolio.com, 11 November 2008
  2. ^ "''Liars Poker II'', Timesonline". Timesonline.co.uk. 2012-03-13. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  3. ^ a b Ex-Salomon Chief's Costly Battle, The New York Times, August 19, 1994
  4. ^ a b New York Times: "Private Sector; Tapping the Wall Street Melting Pot" By Patrick McGeehan (COMPILED BY RICK GLADSTONE) November 25, 2001
  5. ^ "NOTABLE ALUMNI". The Lawrenceville School. Retrieved October 16, 2014. 
  6. ^ Kandell, Jonathan (March 9, 2016). "John Gutfreund, Who Ran Salomon Brothers at Its Apex, Is Dead at 86". New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c "New York Stories: Landmark Writing from Four Decades of New York Magazine" By Steve Fishman p171
  8. ^ TOO FAR, TOO FAST; Salomon Brothers' John Gutfreund, The New York Times, January 10, 1988
  9. ^ "''Inaction Can be as Dangerous as Bad Action'', Aly Gonenne, Class of 2004, Duke Leadership Development Initiative". Mbaa.fuqua.duke.edu. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  10. ^ The Economist: "John Gutfreund Resurrection: A Wall Street legend seeks to recapture former glories" May 8th 2003
  11. ^ John H. Gutfreund Archived June 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "John H. Gutfreund's bio". Phx.corporate-ir.net. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  13. ^ a b c New York Magazine: "Hard to be Rish" by John Taylor Jan 11, 1988
  14. ^ New York Times: "A Fallen King In Search of a Lesser Throne" By PETER TRUELL May 03, 1998
  15. ^ People: "The Party's Over" By Karen S. Schneider September 9, 1991
  16. ^ People: "Marriage with a Midas Touch" By Elizabeth Sporkin May 07, 1990
  17. ^ New York Times: "THE SOCIAL SCRAMBLE IS ON" by Charlotte Curtis - Cultural Desk September 17, 1985
  18. ^ New York Observer: "Consummate Hostess Susan Gutfreund Advises Wall Street Wives to Stay Home" By Irina Aleksander May 5, 2009
  19. ^ Wall Street Journal John Gutfreund former king of Wall Street, dies at 86
  20. ^ John Gutfreund, ‘King of Wall Street’ who helped transform Salomon Brothers, dies at 86, Washington Post

External links[edit]