Of CEOs and other matters

Is this your idea of a stuffy old banker? UBS’ CEO, Sergio Ermotti

We are going to talk about CEOs again- winners and losers. This is why IFO thinks it is important to keep track of who your CEOs are in the companies you are investing in.

For example, Sergio Ermotti, head of UBS [$UBS], the big Swiss bank based in Zurich. A year and a half ago, Forbes Magazine wrote a fascinating article comparing Ermotti to another CEO, Robert McCann, Ermotti’s former boss and mentor at Merrill Lynch.

The two men had worked closely for years at Merrill, then the financial crisis hit and all h3ll broke loose. While UBS was suffering all kinds of hits, Merrill was forced to merge with Bank of America, a huge shot for long-time Merrill employees, including McCann.

Bob McCann, Irish-American banker extraordinaire

“McCann took eight months off. He did some soul searching, played golf and took a film class with his wife at New York University,” according to the Forbes article.

“When [former UBS CEO Oswald] Grubel came calling from Switzerland to ask him to fix UBS’ operations in the U.S., it was a lifeline for the workaholic banker. McCann’s first move was to reassemble his A-team of old Merrill Lynch buddies…”

We highly recommend reading the entire article for a fascinating look at the inside of banking management, its risks and its rewards.

Also, for our young women readers, check out the Forbes staff writer (now deputy editor), Halah Touryalai.

And, now the story of Marc Beer, former CEO of Aegerion, which dumped him today, after he got it into FDA trouble for talking too freely. Eric Palmer, of FiercePharma, wrote this today:

“Aegerion Pharmaceuticals ($AEGR) CEO Marc Beer may be a fast talker but he has been a bit of a slow walker when it comes to giving up his position as CEO.”

Long story short: the FDA thought he was exaggerating the benefits of the drug the Cambridge, Mass.- based company was working on. Boom! Gone. Today. Too bad.

Right: former Aegerion CEO, Marc Beer.

Somehow, we suspect he will land on his feet. He can do what McCann did after his departure from Merrill Lynch. Or, he could move to the West Coast, where failure is valued.

And now for something completely different. We were reading today’s NZZ (Neue Zurcher Zeitung) today on the web and noticed a headline regarding Obama’s speech combining “Lob und Tadel.” Hmm. Had to look it up. Says he greets the Africans with “Praise and Criticism.”

But Tadel – that sounds a lot like tattle, as in tattle-tale. Bet that’s where that word came from. After all, English gets about half of its words from the Saxon (German) side of the language and half from the French side. Just never wondered where “tattle-tale” came from before.

Online dictionaries we found said nothing about origins or claimed relationship to Dutch and Middle Low German, but not current German. Actually the meanings may have diverged under different regimes. Since “tattle” now means something akin to “gossip.”

What do we learn from all this? You can follow all kinds of ideas and words down the Internet rabbit hole to interesting places.


About InvestingforOne

I've been investing in various assets by myself using a discount broker for many years. Over that time, I've developed some theories that others might find useful. Plus, there is more to investing than money. Time, talent, work, friends, family all go into developing a good and satisfactory strategy.
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