Bloomberg News

NEW YORK — Michael Rankowitz, the head of high-yield bonds at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. and the executive who hired former President Clinton to speak at a company event this month, resigned Friday.

The firm received a firestorm of criticism for paying Mr. Clinton $100,000 for his speech at Morgan Stanley’s high-yield-bond investor conference in Boca Raton, Fla. Mr. Rankowitz, 43, who became a managing director in charge of the business in October, arranged the conference.

Morgan Stanley chairman Philip Purcell told clients in an e-mail last week that the securities firm “clearly made a mistake” by hiring Mr. Clinton to speak. Morgan Stanley executives said Friday that there was no connection between the departure of Mr. Rankowitz and the Clinton-speech controversy.

The incident “had nothing to do with it,” said Raymond O’Rourke, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley. Mr. Rankowitz “recognizes the timing is unfortunate, but this is something he discussed a month before the conference.”

Mr. Rankowitz’s resignation follows the departure of his former co-head of global high-yield, Dwight Sipprelle, in October. Mr. Sipprelle resigned shortly after executive changes that included naming new managers of the firm’s trading, research, investment banking, and asset management units.

Mr. Rankowitz, who had jointly managed the high-yield area, covering sales, trading, and research, took over when Mr. Sipprelle left.

The Morgan Stanley conference drew a record number of attendees, including treasurers, chief financial officers, and chief executives from companies that sell junk bonds.

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