Jonathan Auerbach, Broker at Investing Frontiers, Dies at 70

Co-Founder of Auerbach Grayson & Co. Jonathan Auerbach
Jonathan Auerbach, who explored new frontiers for investors as co-founder of Auerbach Grayson & Co., a brokerage that specializes in international trading, has died. He was 70. Source: Auerbach Grayson & Co

Jonathan L. Auerbach, who explored new frontiers for investors as co-founder of Auerbach Grayson & Co., a brokerage that specializes in international trading, has died. He was 70.

He died on Nov. 29 at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, his co-managing director, David Grayson, said today in an interview. The cause was lung cancer, which had been diagnosed in September.

Founded in 1993, New York-based Auerbach Grayson provides research and executes trades in international securities for U.S. mutual funds, hedge funds, pension funds and other institutional investors, utilizing a global network of brokerage partners. It operates in 130 markets and was among the first foreign brokers to do business in Russia, Egypt, South Africa and Iraq, among other nations.

The firm kept doing business through wars and riots in places such as Sri Lanka and the Middle East, according to “How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance,” a 2011 book by Parag Khanna.

“Even when they’re bombing in Gaza, they’re trading in Ramallah,” Auerbach said, according to the book.

Khanna wrote: “By providing access to capital where it is needed most, Auerbach is an agent of development for the connected age.”

Libya Optimism

In March, speaking from Bucharest, Auerbach said on Bloomberg Radio’s “Taking Stock” that he was traveling to Tripoli, by way of Kiev and Frankfurt, to help open Libya as a market for investors.

“They have a stock exchange, and the first day of trading was last Friday,” Auerbach said in the interview. “There are 12 listed companies, a couple of banks and some real estate, and they traded about $300,000. So I’ll be meeting not only with the government people, to talk about access, but also will be talking to some stock brokers to set up our connectivity into the market so that we can start to trade it.”

“You know, we started trading in Iraq about two years ago now, and it works,” Auerbach said. “And I don’t see any reason why Libya is not going to work.”

Asked about concerns that the revolutions of the so-called Arab Spring would usher in new autocratic regimes, he said:

“I just tell everybody, ‘Don’t listen to the noise.’ Every one of these countries has had millions of people who have made their choice, and that is to have transparency, rule of law, and really empowerment of the private sector. Talking to senior executives recently in Egypt, to a person, every one of them said for the first time in their business they don’t look over their shoulder when they make business decisions.”

Parents, Upbringing

Grayson said that “in recent years, Jon had developed a special affection for Africa and was traveling there three or four times a year.”

Jonathan Lewis Auerbach was born on Nov. 25, 1942, in Philadelphia to Joseph and Judith Auerbach. He grew up in New Hampshire and the Boston area and also spent part of his childhood in Dusseldorf, Germany, when his father worked for the U.S. Army, Grayson said.

His father was a partner in the law firm of Sullivan & Worcester and a professor at Harvard Business School, both in Boston. His mother was a reference librarian at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Career Path

Auerbach graduated from Yale University in 1964. He served in the U.S. Army, according to a biography on the company website.

He began his career on Wall Street in 1966, according to the profile. In the early 1970s, he was senior vice president for capital markets at UBS-DB, a joint affiliate of Union Bank of Switzerland and Deutsche Bank AG.

He was managing director for capital markets at Dillon Read & Co.’s London office from 1984 to 1986, then opened his own firm, J.L. Auerbach & Co. in London, according to a 1988 United Press International article. In 1988 he returned to New York to be chairman of Cresvale International Inc., a member of the Cresvale Group, a specialist in international equity-related securities.

At the midtown Manhattan office of their 75-person firm, Auerbach and Grayson shared an office and faced each other at an old-fashioned partner’s desk.

“We’d hold our daily meetings and talk about business, life, children,” Grayson recalled.

Auerbach’s wide-ranging interests included art, theater, film, environmental advocacy and vintage-car road rallies. In May, he and one of his sons took part in a New York-to-Vancouver leg of the Trans-America Challenge in his 1951 Chrysler New Yorker, according to a death notice in the New York Times.

Auerbach’s survivors include his wife, Annie Luce; four children, Gabrielle, Jake, Nick and Sasha; and his father, according to the death notice. A previous marriage, to Jacqueline Ann Zuccaire, ended in divorce, according to a Times wedding announcement.

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