Top 10 C-Suite Firings, Hirings and Retirings of the Decade

by Derek Loosvelt | December 15, 2009

10. Merrill Lynch Ousts CEO Stan “Not the Man Anymore” O’Neal (Dec ‘07)
The first African-American to head a major investment bank, Stan made one too many missteps and the Merrill board was forced to bid him farewell. Perhaps his biggest mistake was talking to Wachovia about a possible merger without first consulting the Merrill board. (Later, of course, Wachovia was sold, first to Citigroup and then to Wells Fargo, which, after beating Citi’s offer, now owns the Carolina-based bank. As for Stan, he’s now a board member of Alcoa.)

9. The Firing of “The Cruz Missile” (Morgan Stanley’s Zoe Cruz) (Nov ‘07)
Zoe Cruz was once one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, being groomed by her mentor and boss, Morgan Stanley CEO Johnny Mack, to take over the firm. That is, until Mack reminded us why he holds the nickname “The Knife” and called Cruz into his office and canned her, making her take the dive for Morgan Stanley’s less-than-stellar results. The last we heard of the Cruz Missile she had started her own hedge fund called Voras Capital, named after the mountainous region in Greece where she was born.

8. Morgan Stanley CEO Philip Purcell Pushed Out By the Group of Eight (Jun ‘05)
Phil became the CEO of Morgan Stanley when his previous firm, Dean Witter, Discover & Co., merged with the giant investment bank in 1997. Phil ran Morgan Stanley until the early part of the decade, when business started to go south and the infamous Group of Eight (former partners at Morgan Stanley) banded together to attempt to push Phil out. The tactic worked, as several bankers fled the firm for Purcell-less water, forcing Phil to hand in his resignation in the summer of 2005 against his own wishes.

7. Bank of America’s Kenny Lewis Stripped of Chairmanship (Apr ‘09)
Not along ago Kenny was voted off the isle of BofA (that is, shareholders voted to take away his chairmanship). Now, Kenny is the man you can’t replace—the BofA board can’t seem to find any man, woman or child who wants to helm the mess that has become the Bank of America, the bank that Lewis took from the minor leagues to the show via acquisition after acquisition after acquisition (not all of which, of course, were winners).

6. Citigroup Chief Chuck Prince Forced To Take A Bow (Nov ‘07)
Before the mortgage-backed securities market hit the fan and folks began calling for Vikram Pandit’s hide, the chief executive officer of Citgroup formerly answered to the name Prince. Yes, Chuck Prince, that executive who had so much promise until Citi lost its crown and Chuck had to go. Since taking his leave, Chuck has often been named as one of the folks in power who didn’t see the worldwide crisis coming but who should’ve known better, shouldering more than a small part of the blame for the current state of the union.

5. Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill Steps Down For Good (Apr ‘06)
Before there was Chuck there was Sandy Weill, the man who served as the face of Citigroup for many years and who worked for the big Citi for five decades, building it into the (tarnished) superpower that it still is today. Though Sandy handed over the CEO duties in 2003, he stayed on to serve as chairman until 2006, the year that marked the end of his reign.

4. AIG CEO and Chairman Hank Greenberg Ousted (Mar ‘05)
Maurice “Hank” Greenberg—the former face, chief and chairman of everybody’s favorite insurance company, American International Group—was forced to flee AIG in 2005 amid allegations that the firm he launched into orbit was cooking its books. One of the men who had a hand in getting rid of Hank was former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (who, it turned out, was no saint himself; after Eliot left his post as New York State Attorney General to become governor, he was famously busted for hanging out and then some with prostitutes). Today, of course, AIG is known as the firm that nearly crushed the financial system in the U.S., while Hank is busy running C.V. Starr & Co., an insurance concern.

3. Former Bank One CEO Jamie Dimon Takes Over As President of JPMorgan Chase (July ’04)
Even though Jamie “Blood” Dimon officially took over the JPMorgan Chase CEO duties in January 2006, he had been, for the most part, running the day-to-day operations of the huge banking firm since his old company, Bank One, merged with JPMorgan in July 2004. (Incidentally, if you Google “dimon takes over jpmorgan chase” you will receive this message: “Did you mean: demon takes over jpmorgan chase.”)

2. Goldman Sachs Chief Hank Paulson Hightails It to Washington (May ‘06)
Little did Hank “the Hammer” Paulson know that, in May 2006, when he took up former President George W. Bush's offer to serve the country as Treasury Secretary that he would soon be handing out billions of dollars in financial aid to his buddies at his former company as well as to scores of other bankers, while presiding over the Treasury during the worst recession since sliced rye was invented. Hank was succeeded by Timmy Geithner, and now the Hammer is enjoying a quieter life, as a fellow at Johns Hopkins University.

1. With Hank in D.C., Lloyd “the Prophet” Blankfein Gets the Nod as Goldman Sachs Next CEO (Apr ‘06)
When Hank went all government on us, Lloyd was there to pick up where Paulson left off, continuing to do God’s work, banking millions of dollars for himself and billions more for shareholders (with that one tiny blip of accepting a few billion in TARP money and becoming a holding company). Today, with his firm out from under TARP and well back into the black, Lloyd, a mere 54 years young, is poised to run the golden firm on Wall Street well into the next decade.

Filed Under: Finance


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