Pike Sullivan, Last F. Eberstadt & Co. CEO, Dies at 86

Pike H. Sullivan, the final chief executive officer of investment firm F. Eberstadt & Co., an early leader on Wall Street in mergers and underwriting, has died. He was 86.

He died on May 8, according to a death notice in the New York Times. No cause was given. He was a resident of Wilson, Wyoming, abutting the Teton mountain range.

Starting in 1962, Sullivan worked for Ferdinand Eberstadt, a pioneer in mutual funds and legendary dealmaker whose work included the 1928 merger of Dodge Bros. Inc. into Chrysler Corp. and the 1969 merger of Northeast Airlines into Northwest Airlines, according to his obituary in the Times. Eberstadt also was called into service by the U.S. government on several occasions to consult on national security and economic issues.

Eberstadt was managing partner of the firm until his death in 1969, and two of the three franchises he had built -- an investment-banking team that sponsored emerging companies, and Chemical Fund, a highly successful mutual fund that specialized in chemical stocks -- withered in his absence, according to William H. Janeway’s “Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy” (2012). Because of Sullivan and another partner, Ed Giles, the third leg of the stool -- institutional research -- survived.

“Sullivan built and ran the firm’s sales and trading activities,” wrote Janeway, a managing director at Warburg Pincus & Co., who worked at Eberstadt early in his career.

‘Remarkable’ Instincts

“He possessed a remarkable, if inarticulate, instinct for stock selection,” Janeway said. “He executed a simple analytical construct by dividing the world and its contents into a two-by-two matrix: one dimension ranged from the ‘simple’ to the ‘complicated,’ and the other ran from the ‘real’ to the ‘remote.’ The secret of management, whether of investments or of the firm, was to live to the maximum extent possible in the quadrant that was both simple and real, and to avoid all that was both complicated and remote.”

Among their other steps, Sullivan and Giles sold the remains of Chemical Fund in 1979 to Marsh & McLennan Cos., which then owned the Putnam Group of mutual funds.

Sullivan served as Eberstadt’s CEO and chairman from 1979 to 1985, when he presided over the firm’s acquisition by Robert Fleming Holdings Ltd., a British merchant bank. The new company, Eberstadt Fleming Inc., was wholly owned by the bank, which was acquired in 2000 by Chase Manhattan Corp., a predecessor of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Sullivan and Giles, who had served as president of Eberstadt, became managing directors of the new firm, according to a PR Newswire release at the time.

Career Moves

Sullivan was born on Jan. 19, 1927, in Decatur, Illinois, according to the death notice. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Brown University in 1949.

He worked at White Weld & Co., a financial services firm in New York City, before joining F. Eberstadt & Co. in 1962.

From 1988 until his retirement in 1993, he served as chairman of investment advisory firm Peter B. Cannell & Co.

Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Susan Wray Sullivan; a daughter, Marguerite (Meg) Sullivan; a son, Pike H. Sullivan III; and two grandchildren, according to the death notice.

(Corrects name to Ferdinand in third paragraph of story published May 11.)
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