Tuesday, July 29, 2014

INSIDE STORY: My Awkward Call With the Late Alan ‘Ace’ Greenberg

By John Crudele

Ace Greenberg liked to play cards. Bridge was his favorite game, but he was known to keep a deck of cards on his desk to distract himself from the rigors of Wall Street trading.

But in 1987, or it could have been 1988, Ace and I played a different game — cat and mouse.

Back at the time I was writing a financial column called “The Bottom Line” for New York Magazine.

Corporate takeovers were big then, and I was breaking news about companies going after other companies and corporate raiders making a nuisance of themselves.

Alan “Ace” Greenberg, who died Friday from cancer at the age of 86, was running Bear Stearns at the time. He was a legend on Wall Street and in bridge circles.

And mostly because of Greenberg, Bear had become a favorite of corporate raiders who would buy a big stake in companies through that brokerage firm and then — using that leverage of those purchases — got the target’s management to do whatever the raiders wanted.

The raiders were making lots of money. Bear Stearns was doing a lot of business. And I was filling up a bunch of columns. So it was all good — for a while.

I started to notice there were leaks when many of these raiders had accumulated stock. The rule was that buyers would have to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission whenever they purchased 5 percent or more of a company’s shares.

But word was leaking out whenever someone got to, say, 4.9 percent or 4.5 percent. In other words, someone wanted the world to know that the company was under attack, but he didn’t want to get the SEC involved.

This bothered me, but not for the reason you might think.

Read the rest here.

No comments:

Post a Comment