Gleacher & Co., the investment bank that’s considering a sale or merger, said Eric J. Gleacher resigned as chairman and will leave the firm.
Gleacher’s founder is quitting the board of directors and planning to strike out on his own, he said today in a telephone interview. The New York-based firm said in August it hired a financial adviser to consider strategic options for the money-losing company.
“The business model on Wall Street is changing once again and there’s plenty of interest in people who have the skills and experience I do,” Gleacher said. “I can do what I do in an independent fashion and I don’t plan on joining any firm of any type.”
Smaller financial companies including Gleacher have struggled amid a slump in trading commissions that pushed brokerages such as WJB Capital Group Inc. and Ticonderoga Securities LLC to close last year. Gleacher reported a $68.3 million loss for the first nine months of 2012 and posted only one annual profit since 2004. The stock dropped 68 percent since 2010 to 76 cents as of yesterday and was little changed as of 2:19 p.m. in New York.
Gleacher, 72, founded Gleacher Partners Inc. in 1990 and before that led mergers and acquisitions at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Morgan Stanley, according to the statement. He hasn’t been chief executive officer since 2010, the year he sold his advisory boutique to the former First Albany Cos., which later took on his name.
Stifel Financial Corp., the St. Louis-based brokerage, was said in October to be among the companies that bid on all or part of Gleacher. Andrew Siegel, a spokesman for Gleacher at Joele Frank Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher, declined to comment on the strategic review, as did Eric Gleacher.
Gleacher said he hasn’t been managing the firm since the merger. He said his focus has been advising Lehman Brothers, which filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history in 2008, on selling its Archstone Inc. real estate unit. Lehman agreed in November to sell Archstone to Equity Residential and AvalonBay Communities Inc. for $6.5 billion, with Gleacher acting as lead adviser.
Bryan Marsal, who ran Lehman Brothers from 2008 until last year, said in a phone interview that he worked with Gleacher for about a year and a half on the Archstone deal. Before selling Archstone, Lehman first had to buy the remainder of the company in 2012 after a dispute with Equity Residential, which was founded by billionaire Sam Zell.
“The price improved almost $2 billion over the course of the year and a half,” said Marsal, co-founder of restructuring firm Alvarez & Marsal Inc. “He made a commitment that he would provide his time and attention to that deal.”
Gleacher said he plans on investing in companies in addition to providing advice to CEOs, saying he wants to “participate in these ventures and create something that’s successful.”