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Financier : A Story of Money, Power, and the Reshaping of American Business - Cary Reich


A Story of Money, Power, and the Reshaping of American Business

Paperback Published: 23rd February 1998
ISBN: 9780471247418
Number Of Pages: 400

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A ferociously energetic, charming, and ruthless businessman, he had, by the age of forty, helped save the foundering auto giant Citroen, established France's first consumer finance company, and been awarded the Legion of Honor. He was a trusted adviser of the Kennedys and an intimate of Lyndon Johnson, William Paley, and Katharine Graham. His numerous business accomplishments included the building or revitalizing of such corporate giants as Avis, Holiday Inns, Warner-Lambert, and Engelhard Minerals & Chemicals. One of the world's savviest individual investors, he amassed a personal fortune of well over $200 million, yet to his dying day never gave up the search for the ultimate buck. After getting his professional start at a small Paris bank, he quickly caught the attention of the eminent private banking firm Lazard Freres, whose prestigious ranks he joined in 1925. Within a year, Andre Benoit Mathieu Meyer was made partner. With the advent of World War II, Meyer was forced into exile by the Nazi occupation. Resettling in the United States, he took over Lazard's New York operation, building it into the most venturesome investment bank in America. Financier captures Meyer's financial wizardry, a phenomenal talent that was tempered only by the volatile tantrums, ruthlessness, and insatiable greed that went hand in hand with his genius. Unveiling the dueling sides of his complex personality, this absorbing account shows Meyer at his best - as a father figure for the likes of Felix Rohatyn, his most famous protege, and for Jacqueline Onassis in the years after the assassination - and presents him at his worst - as a tortured and possessive father and a cruel, often vindictive boss.

Sundry tales of celebrated Franco-American investment banker Andre Meyer (1898-1979) - set forth so as to crudely inflate and puncture "the Meyer mystique." Substantively, there is considerable detail on the convoluted ITT/Hartford-merger/Mediobanca affair (from SEC files), which finally tarnished Meyer's reputation; for gossip-mongers, there are some nasty tidbits about Jackie. Who, then, was Andre Meyer? "The totally self-made man, writ large"; "senior partner of the very private firm of Lazard Freres"; "one of the most outrageously successful venture capitalists of the postwar era"; "the world's most prolific corporate marriage broker"; intimate of the mighty, confidant/adviser/squire of beautiful women', "greedy, vindictive, domineering"; completely insecure; "an original." From interviews, financial journalist Reich has pieced together disconnected chapters on myriad Meyer/Lazard matters. He has only sketchy information on Meyer's pre-WW II French financial wizardry, and less than that on how he ousted the respected Frank Altschul to take over American Lazard. He does better on how Meyer cultivated Robert Lehman and other Wall Street titans to get Lazard a preferred position in underwriting syndicates; on his 1950s take-over deals with Ferdinand Eberstadt; the resurrection of Avis; William Zeckendorf and real estate. An occasional recollection rings bells. How did he always serve Giovanni Agnelli a perfect souffle, "no matter how long he and Meyer dawdled before sitting down to eat"? He had one slipped into the oven every five minutes. Jackie, it appears, was detested by the Meyer female menage at the Carlyle Hotel (which included, besides Mme. Meyer and other family members, various AM amours) - "particularly the breathless, little-girl-lost way in which she would implore Meyer, 'Andre, what should I do? I don't know what to do.'" (But he probably didn't draw up a pre-marital contract for her with Onassis; Reich's sources, moreover, don't think there was one.) Towards the last, the book gains some energy - with an ex-con/ex-conspirator's attempted revenge, the ITT matter and Meyer's interrogation, the onset of cancer, his unraveling family, Felix Rohatyn's non-succession. Trite and overextended - but with stretches of interest to Wall Street regulars, spots of Pocantico-to-Bed-Stuy interest for the merely curious. (Kirkus Reviews)

A Tale of Two Financiers.

The Picasso of Banking.

Up and Coming.

Starting Over.

Gold Under the Asphalt.

Andre and Ferd.


The Women in his Life.

The Avis Saga.

Sins of Pride.


The Incomparable Investor.

Money Hungry.

Madeleine Malraux.

Life at Lazard.

Pierre the Duke.

The Sage of the Carlyle.

Merger Making.

Cashing in.

Jackie O. A Rendezvous with LBJ.

Tidying Up.

Eddie Gilbert ...


A Deal Under Fire.

The Vise Tightens.

Fighting for his Life.


The Torch Passes.

The Final Tally.

Notes on Sources.




ISBN: 9780471247418
ISBN-10: 0471247413
Series: Trailblazer Biographies (Hardcover)
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 400
Published: 23rd February 1998
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.62 x 15.8  x 2.16
Weight (kg): 0.55
Edition Number: 1