NEW YORK—Bruce Wasserstein, chairman and CEO of investment bank Lazard Ltd., passed away at the age of 61. He was pronounced dead on Oct. 14 after having been admitted into the hospital two days earlier for an "irregular heartbeat," as reported by various media.
Wasserstein, a power player on Wall Street and head of one of the world's largest and oldest investment banks, leaves behind his fourth wife Angela Chao, whom he married in January 2009.
According to Forbes , Bruce Wasserstein was worth $2.3 billion as of September 2008. The company he chaired, Lazard , is a global investment bank with $1.56 billion in yearly revenue and close to 2,300 employees in 24 countries around the world.
Wasserstein is credited with having transformed the previously benign mergers and acquisitions practice into a more aggressive one, introducing hostile takeovers and the various business practices associated with them.
Wasserstein was born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish immigrants from Poland. After graduating from University of Michigan and Harvard's Business and Law schools, he started his career at the prestigious Cravath, Swaine & Moore law firm as an attorney, but later moved to First Boston where he worked on mergers and acquisitions.
In 1988, Wasserstein founded investment bank Wasserstein Perella & Co., which he sold in 2000 to Dresdner Bank for $1.4 billion in a stock deal. After taking up a job at Lazard in 2002, he completed the company's initial public offering in 2005 after an acrimonious battle with Michel David-Weill, the firm’s chairman who had hired him.
In addition to his firebrand life in the business world, Bruce Wasserstein is also well known in the media business for his ownership of several magazines, including New York Magazine, which he bought in 2004.
Wall Street Journal reported that Lazard had appointed Steven Golub as interim chief executive.