Viking Global to Back Rockefeller Wealth Firm Led by Fleming

Updated on
  • Ex-Morgan Stanley executive Greg Fleming to be firm’s CEO
  • Hedge fund to become majority owner of high-net-worth adviser

Greg Fleming, a former top executive at Morgan Stanley, is joining with the Rockefeller family office to create a wealth-management firm that will be backed by Viking Global Investors.

Fleming will be chief executive officer of Rockefeller Capital Management, an adviser to the ultra-wealthy that will be acquired by Viking Global after the deal is completed early next year, the New York-based company said Wednesday in a statement. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Fleming, 54, who was most recently president of Morgan Stanley Wealth and Asset Management, left the Wall Street firm last year after CEO James Gorman indicated he planned to stay on at least five more years and installed an older deputy in the bank’s No. 2 position, people with knowledge of the decision said at the time. Before joining Morgan Stanley, Fleming was president of Merrill Lynch & Co.

In addition to wealth and asset management, the new company will create a unit focusing on advising large multinational companies, Fleming said in a phone interview.

‘Strategic Advice’

“Many wealthy families own companies that they need to take public or sell,” he said. “They’re looking for strategic advice, and they’re looking for interesting investments.”

He said a deal to purchase the Miami Marlins baseball team that he was involved in earlier this year was an example of the sort of investment the firm’s clients might be interested in.

A private-equity fund managed by Viking will own the majority of the business, while Fleming and others in management will invest, he said. A trust representing the broader Rockefeller family will remain an owner, though it’s selling some of its stake as part of the transaction.

Rockefeller & Co., which began 135 years ago as the family office of oil baron John D. Rockefeller, oversees about $10.9 billion for families and other institutional investors, and advises on another $5.3 billion, according to the statement. Fleming said that Viking’s capital will be used to expand these businesses, as well as building an advisory arm.

“The industry is very fragmented," Fleming said. For independent companies that combine wealth and asset management, as well as advisory, “there’s room, if you do it well, to really generate some market share, especially for a firm with a brand as good as Rockefeller," he added.

Viking Global, which was founded by Andreas Halvorsen, has about $25 billion under management, making it one of the biggest hedge funds in the world.

The Rockefeller family office was advised by Ardea Partners, an investment bank formed last year by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. veteran Chris Cole and a handful of former colleagues. Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP provided legal advice, according to the statement. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP was legal adviser to Viking Global.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Fleming’s new role earlier Wednesday.

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