Power struggle may see Lazards run by committee

Michel David-Weill, the legendary financier who runs the Lazard investment banking empire, may set up a committee of three to five bankers to run the group rather than hand over power to a single individual.

This could be one possible solution to the struggles over the succession that have seen Mr David-Weill fall out spectacularly with his dashing young son-in-law, the French banker Edouard Stern, until recently the favourite as heir-apparent.

In an interview to be published next week in Vanity Fair, the US magazine, Mr David-Weill says the Lazard group - based in Paris, London and New York - has grown so big that he is now unsure it can be run by one man.

He says he is no longer certain that "the best structure in the next generation is the same structure as today".

One possibility is to run Lazards through a group of bankers, one each in the three main centres and one or two others "not running offices, but with more ideas, more capital-minded," Mr David-Weill says.

Vanity Fair is unlikely to be pleasant reading to Mr David-Weill. One source calls him a ruthless operator who "enjoys setting people up against each other".

He is also described by colleagues and acquaintances variously as chilling, mean, cold and manipulative.

According to Vanity Fair, candidates for the new Lazards committee suggested by Mr David-Weill include David Verey, chairman of the London bank, Ken Wilson, the former Salomon Brothers banker who has an influential role in New York, and Steve Rattner.

It was Mr Rattner who had a very public falling out last year with his senior colleague Felix Rohatyn, the doyen of the Lazards New York office.

Mr Rohatyn described Mr Rattner, in remarks published in New York magazine, as a "mono-maniacal" social climber and went on to accuse him of leaking information, which he denied.

This spat between two senior men revealed to the banking world that life was far from harmonious at the top of Lazards, and that there might be a succession problem looming.

But the clearest indication of the difficulty came in a row last year between Mr David-Weill and Mr Stern, who is married to Mr David-Weill's daughter, Beatrice. The article nevertheless names Mr Stern as still among the candidates for the top at Lazards.

In his interview, Mr David-Weill denies French newspaper reports that he had a blazing row with Mr Stern, who announced he was quitting and was allegedly told by his father-in-law to go ahead and do it.

"We had a conversation about his future, which went very well. And then he told me on the telephone, no fight at all, that for the time being he preferred concentrating on investments," Mr David-Weill says.

Vanity Fair suggests the root of the argument is that Mr Stern threatened to leave if he was not put in control. But the problem for Mr David-Weill, says the article, is that Mr Stern's abusive manner and his arrogance have "continually upset the fragile ecosystem at Lazards". Mr Stern is nevertheless still working in the Lazards group.

Mr David-Weill, 64, was the man behind the resurgence of the family bank. He brought the London, Paris and New York arms of Lazard together again in 1984 for the first time since the war, through the purchase of half the London operation from Pearson. Since then, the group has outshone the rival family dynasty of Rothschild.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk