Morgan Stanley is quietly hunting for a new top executive to run its investment management business, one of the worlds largest albeit shrinking money management operations.
According to several industry sources, the brokerage firms top executives are looking for a "bona fide investment star" to lead Morgan Stanley Investment Management, the unit that's been run by a management troika for much of the past year. As of Nov. 30, it had $399 billion in assets under management.
Morgan Stanley executives, led by co-President James Gorman, have made it a top priority to improve the money management operation this year after it posted a $1.2 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2008 and saw its assets under management slide roughly 34%, or $206 billion, since the end of May.
Now, Morgan Stanley executives are looking for someone who can help rebuild the business and return it to profitability.
"Theyre after a high-profile, pure-investment-management mind and not someone who has been born out of a broker-dealer culture," said a source familiar with the search who requested anonymity.
A spokeswoman for New York-based Morgan Stanley declined to comment. But a number of sources in the investment management industry separately confirmed that a search is proceeding at full throttle.
Independently, five sources noted that Morgan Stanley has retained a boutique executive recruiting firm New York-based Jamesbeck Global Partners LLC to conduct the search. Ashton McFadden, managing director at Jamesbeck, declined to comment.
In the wake of last year's devastating decline in asset values, Morgan Stanley is in the process of restructuring MSIM and recently reduced its 800-person head count by 9%.
Until recently, MSIM has been led by Stephen Trevor and Jay Mantz, who had run the merchant banking group, and Stuart Bohart, who managed all of the non-merchant banking units within MSIM. Mr. Mantz recently had his role redefined, and was repositioned to focus exclusively on MSIMs real estate business.
The executive that Morgan Stanley is seeking would effectively take the place of these co-heads, giving the business a sole leader for the first time since former MSIM President Owen Thomas was elevated to chief executive of Morgan Stanley's Asian operations in February 2008.
Mark Bruno is a reporter at InvestmentNews, a sister publication of Pensions & Investments