Morgan Stanley chairman and chief executive officer Philip J. Purcell is finally leaving.
The embattled executive said Monday morning he will retire as soon as his successor is named, but no later than by the firm’s next annual meeting in March 2006.
“It has become clear that in light of the continuing personal attacks on me, and the unprecedented level of negative attention our firm — and each of you — has had to endure, that this is the best thing I can do for you, our clients and our shareholders,” he said in a letter to colleagues made available by the investment banking giant.
“I feel strongly that the attacks are unjustified, but unfortunately, they show no signs of abating,” he added. “A simple reality check tells us that people are spending more time reading about the acrimony and not enough time reading about the outstanding work that is being accomplished by our firm.”
The search for Purcell’s successor will be led by Chuck Knight, head of the compensation, management development and succession committee of Morgan Stanley’s board of directors.
For weeks, the chief executive has been pressured to resign by a band of former executives and investors, dubbed the Group of Eight, after Purcell fired a number of executives. The investment bank has since seen a stream of top bankers leave.
Perhaps the last straw came Friday, according to The Wall Street Journal, when nine key members of the firm’s equity-derivatives division resigned to join Wachovia Corp.