Alfred Brittain III, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Bankers Trust New York Corp. who raised profits by exiting retail banking to focus on lending to companies and other banks, has died. He was 88.
He died March 5 at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, according to Ted Hampton, his stepson.
As head of Bankers Trust -- now part of Deutsche Bank AG -- from 1975 to 1987, Brittain sold off retail branches and emphasized merchant banking. Profits soared by 1984.
The company ranked eighth in assets and fourth in earnings among U.S. banking companies at the end of 1986, the New York Times reported.
Along with Walter Wriston of Citicorp and David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan Corp., Brittain helped represent major banks in negotiations with New York City and its unions during the city’s financial crisis of 1977.
Colleagues recalled his kindness toward his workers. He made a point of eating with his employees in the company cafeteria at least once a week, walking up to a table and asking, “Mind if I sit down?” Hampton said.
After noticing the skills of a trader who was also a top-ranked chess player, the bank began recruiting through U.S. chess organizations.
An avid sailor, Brittain established client-focused sailing events that came to be known as the Chairman’s Cup.
He was a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 1982 to 1985 and served on the board of Philip Morris Cos. for 25 years, until 1991.
Brittain was born on July 22, 1922, in Evanston, Illinois, to Alfred Brittain Jr., a banker in Chicago and New York, and Sybil Collins Brittain. He grew up in Winnetka, Illinois.
He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1941 and from Yale University in 1947, after serving in the Pacific theater during World War II.
He joined Bankers Trust’s credit department in 1947 and worked his way to the top of the bank’s international department. When he was named president in 1966, he became, at 43, the youngest president of a major New York City bank, the Times reported.
Brittain is survived by his wife, the former May Sandoz McDonnell, and two children from his first marriage -- a son, Stephen, and a daughter, Linda. His first wife, the former Beatrice Memhard, died in 1988. His second wife, the former Lill Middleton Hampton, died in 1993.