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Jewogle - Bruce Wasserstein

Bruce Wasserstein

Bruce Wasserstein

Wasserstein was an American investment banker and businessman. He was a graduate of the McBurney School, University of Michigan, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Law School, and spent a year at Cambridge University. He was the Chairman and CEO of Lazard Ltd.

Early life

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to Morris and Lola (née Schleifer) Wasserstein, Bruce Wasserstein was one of five siblings. His father, Morris, a Jewish immigrant from pre-World War II Poland, emigrated to New York City and started a ribbon company. His maternal grandfather was Simon Schleifer, a Jewish teacher in the yeshiva in Wloclawek, Poland. Claims that Schleifer was a prominent playwright are most likely apocryphal, as this profession was only added to his résumé after Wendy Wasserstein, his sister, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Schleifer moved to Paterson, New Jersey and became a Hebrew school principal.


Wasserstein helped broker more than a thousand transactions worth $250 billion since the 1980s. Starting his career as a Cravath, Swaine & Moore attorney, he later rose to co-head of First Boston Corp.'s dominant merger and acquisition practice. He eventually formed investment bank boutique Wasserstein Perella & Co., which he sold in 2000, at the top of the 1990s bull market, to Germany's Dresdner Bank for around $1.4 billion in stock. He left the unit Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (formed by merging Dresdner's United Kingdom unit Kleinwort Benson with Wasserstein Perella) to take the job at Lazard Frères. In 2005, he completed the initial public offering for Lazard.

Wasserstein controlled Wasserstein & Co., a private equity firm with investments in a number of industries, particularly media. In 2004, he added New York Magazine to his media empire. In July 2007, he sold American Lawyer Media to Incisive Media for about $630 million in cash. He is credited with the term, Pac-Man defense, which is used by targeted companies during a hostile takeover attempt.


In 2007 Wasserstein made a $25 million donation to Harvard Law School, the large academic wing of the school's new Northwest Corner complex, which will be named Wasserstein Hall in his honor.

Net worth

According to Forbes, as of September 17, 2008, Wasserstein's net worth was estimated to be $2.3 billion.

Personal life

Bruce Wasserstein was predeceased by two siblings: businesswoman Sandra Wasserstein Meyer and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein, whose daughter, Lucy Jane, he was raising.

Wasserstein was married four times, three times divorced. In January 2009 he married his fourth wife, Angela Chao, a sister of Elaine Chao. Angela Chao is an executive at her father James Chao's Foremost Group, a shipping and trade concern, and on the board of BIMCO, a trade organization. She graduated from Harvard in three years, worked in investment banking at Smith Barney, and briefly at her father's shipping company before going to Harvard Business School, and then back to Foremost.

His political position was liberal, and he was involved with media since college, when he was an editor on his school newspaper the Michigan Daily, then served an internship at Forbes Magazine. Inspired by Ralph Nader, he was one of Nader's Raiders for a brief length of time. Rahm Emanuel and Vernon Jordan were employed by Wasserstein for a few years.


On October 12, 2009, Wasserstein was admitted to hospital with an irregular heartbeat. It was originally reported that his condition was serious, but that he was stable and recovering. On October 14, 2009, Wasserstein was pronounced dead. He was 61 years old.


Wasserstein, Bruce (2000). Big Deal : 2000 and Beyond.

Wasserstein, Bruce (1998). Big Deal: Mergers and Acquisitions in the Digital Age.

Wasserstein, Bruce (1988). Big Deal: The Battle for the Control of America's Leading Corporations.

Wasserstein, Bruce (1978). Corporate Finance Law: A Guide for the Executive.

Wasserstein, Bruce; Mark J. Green (1970). With Justice for Some: An Indictment of the Law by Young Advocates.

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