Caplan Resurfaces

The same day Mitch Caplan stepped down as the chief executive of E-Trade Financial Corp. in November, it got a $2.5 billion infusion from a private-equity investor.Nearly a year later, Mr. Caplan is working on such investments from the other side of the table.

Aquiline Capital Partners LLC, a New York private-equity firm that specializes in financial services, said Tuesday that it had hired Mr. Caplan as an executive adviser.

He will scout for "global opportunities in the retail financial services sector," Aquiline said.

Mr. Caplan joined E-Trade in 2000, when it acquired Telebank Financial Corp. of Arlington Va. He was promoted to CEO of the brokerage firm in January 2003. E-Trade's banking operation grew quickly, but last year losses on its mortgage portfolio led to the infusion from Citadel Investment Group LLC and Mr. Caplan's departure.

Count Him Out

Dick Kovacevich, a man known for speaking bluntly, is not saying which presidential candidate he supports.But in addressing members of the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on Tuesday, the Wells Fargo & Co. chairman did not mince words when asked about his interest in serving as secretary of the Treasury in either a McCain or Obama administration.

"No," Mr. Kovacevich said, according to a San Francisco Business Times report. "Anyone who knows me well knows that I'd last three milliseconds in the political environment."

It has been widely reported that he stood alone during discussions between executives and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson about the Bush administration's plan to invest $250 billion directly in the nation's largest banking companies, including Wells.

Mr. Kovacevich reportedly said he did not like the plan, because his company did not need the money.

At the Commonwealth Club gathering, he sought to soften the tenor of his opposition. "I have always believed that the system is more important than any individual company," he said, according to the Business Times. "If that means a company has to sacrifice along the way, so be it."

Treasury talk aside, Mr. Kovacevich, who reaches Wells' mandatory retirement age of 65 on Oct. 30, doesn't seem anxious to leave the national banking stage. He hinted earlier this month that he might stay with Wells in some type of advisory role to help with integration of Wachovia Corp. next year. And John Stumpf, who succeeded Mr. Kovacevich as CEO, said he'd like to have his former boss stick around. "I have asked Dick to stay on and help," Mr. Stumpf said on the call earlier this month.

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