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Rating:What Does Gorman's Ascension Mean for Fundsters? Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, September 14, 2009

What Does Gorman's Ascension Mean for Fundsters?

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

A brokerage industry veteran is about to take over Morgan Stanley. On Thursday the investment bank revealed that co-president James Gorman, a face mutual fund insiders know well, will succeed John Mack as CEO on January 1. At the same time, rumors continue to swirl about the bidding for Van Kampen Investments.

Gorman already chairs the freshly combined Morgan Stanley Smith Barney wirehouse, and at least one fundster looks forward to his reign over the whole company.

"I view it as a positive development," a fund distribution exec told the MFWire, noting Gorman's background in the brokerage side of the business. That fundster anticipated that Gorman's elevation will eventually mean more "great resources" for brokers at the new wirehouse.

Yet how far will Gorman tack away from investment banking and trading in favor of brokerage? The Wall Street Journal's Aaron Lucchetti and Matthias Rieker report that the newly-anointed CEO-to-be told Morgan Stanley staff on Friday that i-banking and trading will still be the firm's "core focus."

"We're not about to become a wealth-management firm," Gorman reportedly told employees. "The heart, the DNA, the fabric of this place has always been the institutional securities business and frankly should always be."

Of course, that focus fits in with the Van Kampen sale process that fundsters have been buzzing about. (As of September 2, the Wall Street Journal reported that Morgan Stanley was leaning towards a joint venture-style sale, similar to how Merrill Lynch sold MLIM to BlackRock and took a stake in BlackRock.) One fund distribution executive described the impending Van Kampen sale as another positive sign from Morgan Stanley, as it would make MSSB more independent from (and less competitive with) mutual fund firms. 

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