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Perella Weinberg Names Ex-Treasury Official Robert Steel CEO

Robert Steel
Robert Steel, then-chief executive officer of Wachovia Corp., waves to employees during a presentation at company headquarters in Charlotte on Oct. 15, 2008. Photographer: Jason E. Miczek/Bloomberg

Perella Weinberg Partners named Robert Steel its chief executive officer, picking the former Treasury Department official who oversaw the sale of Wachovia Corp. to replace co-founder Joseph Perella.

Perella, 72, will remain chairman of the advisory and asset management firm, according to a statement from the company today. Peter Weinberg will continue to head Perella Weinberg’s advisory business, and Terry Meguid will remain co-head of asset management.

Perella is taking a step back from operational duties to focus on client-relationships, he said in a telephone interview. Mergers and acquisitions activity is at its highest since before the financial crisis, and small advisory firms have increased their share of the advisory fees paid on these deals.

“Now is the right time to do it,” Perella said. “Whenever you have the opportunity to bring in a great person, particularly when you have more opportunity in front of you than you can humanly deal with, you’re a fool not to.”

Steel, 62, who had previously worked with Peter Weinberg at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., considered joining Perella Weinberg when the firm opened its doors in 2006, he said. Instead he went to work for the government, where he was a Treasury under secretary before he became CEO of Wachovia in July 2008 -- as the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank was reeling from its exposure to the U.S. real-estate market.

Wachovia Sale

Wachovia agreed to sell itself to Wells Fargo & Co. in October of that year, after regulators told the company to seek a merger partner because it was on the verge of collapse.

Steel, who was most recently New York City’s deputy mayor for economic development under Michael Bloomberg, will take the post in July, according to today’s statement. The former mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Perella Weinberg ranks 20th among M&A advisers this year, having worked on $36.6 billion in announced deals, data compiled by Bloomberg show. In 2013, the firm ranked 30th, the data show. Its asset management business oversees about $11.5 billion, according to today’s statement.

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