Morning Coffee: Morgan Stanley banker finally submits to rival 8 years his junior. Crypto company had no time for controls
The battle for supremacy at Morgan Stanley has been going on for a long time and ultimately, it seems, the youngest man with the most endurance has won.
Yesterday, Franck Petitgas, the most senior person outside the US at Morgan Stanley announced his retirement after a 30-year career. Petitgas, who owns a historic harbour on the south coast of the UK and is entitled to call himself lord as a result, is now free to wear a cape and look at the waves. Morgan Stanley's crown will pass to someone in the generation below.
A Morgan Stanley lifer who joined the bank aged 29, Petitgas is 61 years old, putting him only a few years behind Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman. Coincidentally, 61 is also the age at which Colm Kelleher, another Morgan Stanley lifer with pretensions to replace Gorman, left three years ago. The President of the US is 80 years old, but Morgan Stanley executives are seemingly ushered to the door two decades earlier.
With a succession of potential Gorman replacements gone - Paul Taubman (defeated by Kelleher), Kelleher (semi-replaced by Petitgas), and now Petitgas himself, the way is now clear for some younger bucks in their 50s. Most notably, Ted Pick.
We've written about Ted before. He seems pretty fun. He's not quite as fun as ex-Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack, and doesn't play jokes like putting sushi in phones, but he has a reputation for being "a fun guy to have around,” and sometimes using expletives. Pick is a trader rather than an investment banker, which probably helps in a year when trading revenues are strong and investment banking revenues are not. He's also 11 years younger than Gorman, and with Petitgas out the way it's increasingly likely that either he, or Andy Saperstein (two years older than Pick), will be the next CEO.
As is the way of these things, Petitgas isn't leaving MS entirely or immediately. He will linger as a "senior advisor." Kelleher did something similar before taking time out to do things like walk the Camino de Santiago and discover that he felt "really happy not being at work.” Ultimately, though, Kelleher made a comeback - he's now chair of UBS. Petitgas may well find that being the lord of a harbour isn't how he wants to spend the next few decades of his life.
Separately, with the crypto dominoes falling thick and fast and exchange Genesis now saying that it has "no plans to file for bankruptcy immediately" as it seeks to raise cash, a timely report has appeared on the problems at Celsius Network, the cryptocurrency lender that went bankrupt back in July.
After scrutinising the report, the Wall Street Journal suggests that the issue was fundamentally a lack of time. Celsius didn't develop robust controls for its custody funds and this was because it was 'under time pressure.' It wanted to develop those controls, but was going to do so later.
Unfortunately, this procrastination led to additional work in the short term. Because there was no separate infrastructure to accept custody deposits, coins held in digital wallets weren't automatically balanced with coins held in custody accounts. Someone at Celsius therefore had to transfer customers' coins across manually. This must have been very time-consuming: when Celsius went under, it had $180m of coins in its custody accounts...
When you get an unexpected telephone call: "It's Sam Bankman-Fried, I might need cash, one to two billion dollars max in short-term..." (Business Insider)
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Median pay at Twitter is $233k. (WSJ)
Bain & Co. helped Tiger Global conduct due diligence into FTX. That investment is now worth nothing. (Bloomberg)
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Caroline Ellison was living her best life. "It doesn't really make sense for me to be worried about saving. I'll probably just make more money in the future." (Business Insider)
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