Moving to stem speculation about the future of WR Lazard & Co. after the death of the company's founder, the firm formally named a management team yesterday to chart the direction of the company.
The move signals the return of Betty Lazard, widow of the late Wardell R. Lazard, to an active role in the company. Betty Lazard was treasurer of WR Lazard from 1985 until 1990.
Although there were some title changes, little movement was apparent among key executives at the top of the company.
"I think all they do is reflect the fact that it's business as usual with the same solid team that we had before," said Thomas M. Mead, president of WR Lazard, Laidlaw & Mead Inc., the firm's broker-dealer subsidiary.
WR Lazard's board of directors named Melvin L. Eubanks chairman and co-chief executive officer of the firm.
Shortly after Wardell Lazard's death, Lazard officials named Eubanks acting chairman and chief executive officer of the company. Eubanks had been vice chairman of the brokerage firm.
Eubank's also will oversee the firm's asset management operations. WR Lazard manages investment portfolios of approximately $2.7 billion for a number of clients.
Kenneth E. Glover, who becomes a co-chief executive officer, retains his post as vice chairman of the firm.
Betty Lazard, widow of the firm's founder, becomes a vice chairman and director. She will be involved in new business development for WR Lazard's investment banking investment advisory, and asset management businesses. Lazard also oversee the Wardell R. Lazard Foundation.
The foundation was created after company founder Wardell Lazard's death to fund various youth-mentoring programs sponsored by the company.
Eubanks, Glover, and Betty Lazard will in part divide what had been the roles of Wardell Lazard as managing principal of the company, said Roy Bumstead, a WR Lazard spokesman.
Betty Lazard and her three children will also retain a controlling ownership of more than 51% of the company, Bumstead said. He declined to be more specific.
Mead, a former Salomon Brothers executive, has added the title of vice chairman of the broker-dealer subsidiary. He remains a director of the parent company.
Glover and Mead will jointly oversee the firm's investment banking business.
Other members of the board of directors include Dwight L. White, a principal and head of the firm's Pittsburgh office, and Stephen Cate, the firm's chief financial officer.
The management changes were prompted by the unexpected death of Wardell Lazard on May 11. Lazard, who would have been 45 last Saturday, was found dead in his hotel room in Pittsburgh, the victim of a drug overdose.
In 1993, WR Lazard & Co. named a four-member executive team to develop and manage its investment banking efforts. The team also had a mandate to refocus the firm on its investment banking, asset management, financial advisory, sales, and trading businesses.
The team included Glover, then vice chairman and chief administrative officer, Mead, and Eubanks, then vice chairman of the brokerage firm.
Prior to joining Lazard, Glover was a senior vice president at RJR Nabisco Inc. and a former public finance managing director at Drexel Burnham Lambert.
Eubanks was a founding member of the former First Harlem Securities. WR Lazard acquired First Harlem in 1986.
White, a Lazard principal, is a former all-pro defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He joined Lazard in 1989. He previously worked as president and chief executive officer of Daniels & Bell Inc., having joined the firm in 1985 as a vice president in charge of public finance in seven states.
Founded in 1985, WR Lazard broke ground as one of the first full-service minority-owned investment banks. The firm served as the first minority-owned firm to senior-manage tax-exempt offerings for several issuers, including the New York State Local Government Assistance Corp., the New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority, and the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The firm is ranked as the fourth largest black-owned investment bank, according to BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine in its annual listing of the nation's largest black-owned businesses.
WR Lazard ranked 39th among top underwriters of municipal debt during the first quarter of 1994, serving as senior manager on three issues totaling $172.1 million, according to Securities Data Co.
As a co-manager, when full credit is given to each manager, the firm worked on 51 deals totaling more than $5 billion during the quarter. The firm ranked 68th among senior managers and 17th among co-managers for all of 1993.
Lazard also ranked as the top minority-owned underwriter in the first quarter of 1994.