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Wall Street Giant Bruce Wasserstein Is Dead

Bruce Wasserstein, an iconic mergers-and-acquisitions dealmaker, took Lazard public as its CEO

Staff and wire service reports

Bruce Wasserstein, the legendary Wall Street dealmaker and Lazard CEO, has died, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported on Oct. 14. Wasserstein, who was 61, had been hospitalized in recent days because of an irregular heartbeat.

A company spokeswoman confirmed the death on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

Wasserstein, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., served as head of Lazard since 2002. He took the company public in May 2005.

Aside from his work at Lazard, Wasserstein served as chairman of Wasserstein & Co., a private investment firm. Wasserstein targets investments between $30 million and $150 million. It has stakes in companies ranging from Penton Media, a publisher of trade magazines, to gourmet food seller Harry & David.

Wasserstein also owned New York Media Holdings, which publishes New York magazine.

Wasserstein, the son of a textile businessman, attended the University of Michigan, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Law School. Early on, he eyed a business career, but gave that up in favor of going into law.

He joined First Boston in 1977, eventually becoming co-head of M&A with Joe Perella. He co-founded Wasserstein Perella in 1988 and was CEO until the firm was acquired by Dresdner Bank in 2000. He resigned in 2001 as executive chairman of investing banking division Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and joined Lazard in 2002.

During his career, Wasserstein worked on such landmark deals as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts' takeover of RJR Nabisco in the late 1980s and the Morgan Stanley-Dean Witter and AOL-Time Warner mergers.

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