Lorenzo Weisman, a banker with global roots and expansive interests whose boutique investment bank, Hill Street Capital LLC, was purchased in 2010 by BNP Paribas SA, has died. He was 67.
He died on Sept. 22 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The cause was brain cancer, according to his wife, the former Danielle-Camille Maysonnave.
A lover of the arts, raised in Guatemala with a deep appreciation for his French Jewish heritage, Weisman attended Columbia Business School with the intent of entering the theater business.
“He was a Renaissance man -- he really was,” his wife, who is known as Stanley, said yesterday in an interview. “He played guitar, he was an actor. He went to business school because he wanted to buy a theater. He wanted to direct.”
She recalled her surprise when he sat her down one day during his business-school studies to say they wouldn’t be going back to Paris as planned. “I fell in love with finance,” he said.
So after earning his master’s degree in business administration in 1973, he stayed in New York to join Dillon Read & Co., rising to head its European operations. When Dillon Read became part of SBC Warburg in 1997, before its merger into UBS AG, Weisman served as head of Latin American corporate finance.
In 2001, he and a Dillon Read colleague, John Brim, started New York-based Hill Street Capital, naming the firm after the location of Dillon Read’s former London office in the Mayfair neighborhood. Both men joined Paris-based BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank, when it bought their firm to expand its U.S. mergers and acquisitions and corporate-advisory work.
“Lorenzo always loved business, always loved the pursuit of a good deal,” Brim, who heads corporate finance for North America at BNP Paribas in New York, said yesterday in an interview. “But business was only part of his very broad range of interests. He was a huge fan of the arts, a subscriber to the opera and the philharmonic, a serious collector of pre-Columbian art, an excellent offshore ocean racer in his sailboat, a devoted father and grandfather.”
When Weisman, at 56, joined Brim in starting their own business, he told Euromoney magazine, “It’s become a very young culture in investment banking everywhere. Clients appreciate people who have been around longer.”
At BNP Paribas, Weisman was head of corporate finance for North and South America. He retired this year for medical reasons.
He served on the Columbia Business School’s Board of Overseers for 18 years. He “always led by example, inspiring his fellow alumni to connect to the school in meaningful ways, including through lending their financial support, volunteering on campus and recruiting the next generation of business leaders,” Glenn Hubbard, the business school dean, said in a statement.
Lorenzo David Weisman was born on March 22, 1945, to French Jewish parents in Guatemala City. His father, Edouard, had run a small private bank in France that was seized by Nazi authorities, prompting him to move to Guatemala, where his father had started a department store, Weisman’s wife said.
Weisman moved to the U.S. to attend the Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island. He graduated from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1966 and moved to Paris to pursue theater, becoming an actor with the Comedie-Francaise, France’s oldest theater. There, he met his future wife.
Before leaving for business school, he directed a play featuring his friend, Gerard Depardieu, his wife said.
In a 25-year career at Dillon Read, he worked on international mergers and acquisitions, moving to London in 1977 to help build up the firm’s European business. In 1981 he became chairman of London-based Dillon Read Overseas Corp., succeeding Evan Galbraith, who had left to become U.S. ambassador to France under President Ronald Reagan.
While at the helm in London, Weisman had to handle the fallout from more than $1 million in losses that led to the wholesale dismissal of a seven-man trading team, according to Robert Sobel’s “The Life and Times of Dillon Read” (1991). “We had people who were totally unreliable,” Weisman said, according to Sobel’s account.
Weisman returned to New York in 1993, managing international corporate finance and focused on rebuilding the company’s presence in Latin America.
An avid sailor, Weisman competed four times in the Newport, Rhode Island, to Bermuda race, according to the death notice. The 635-mile course typically takes a few days to complete.
He was a former president of the co-op board at 1107 Fifth Ave., where he and his wife lived since 1993. “His elegance and witty demeanor brought spark to our building,” the current board wrote in a Times death notice. His co-op neighbors included designer Ralph Lauren and Sony Corp. Chairman Howard Stringer, according to an earlier Times story.
Weisman was chairman of the advisory committee of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard and was a former chairman of the board of the French Institute/Alliance Francaise in New York.
In addition to his wife, survivors include three children, Melissa, Alexia and Thomas, and six grandchildren.