Derek Jeter's Banker Joins Rockefellers in New Wall Street Venture

By Liz Hoffman Features Dow Jones Newswires

Greg Fleming, a well-known Wall Street executive, is resurfacing nearly two years after leaving his role at Morgan Stanley as a top lieutenant of Chief Executive James Gorman.

Continue Reading Below

Rockefeller & Co., the family office of 19th-century oil baron John D. Rockefeller, is expected on Wednesday to name Mr. Fleming its new CEO, part of a deal in which the firm will be acquired by hedge-fund firm Viking Global Investors LP and recast as an adviser and asset manager to the ultrawealthy.

The deal is a reboot for the 135-year-old firm and a comeback for the 54-year-old Mr. Fleming, who came close to the top jobs at Merrill Lynch & Co. and Morgan Stanley but fell short at both.

Since leaving Morgan Stanley in 2016 amid signs he wouldn't succeed Mr. Gorman, he has flirted with a few high-profile Wall Street firms and tended to a client roster that includes Canadian billionaire Paul Desmarais and former New York Yankee Derek Jeter, whom Mr. Fleming advised on the $1.2 billion consortium purchase of the Miami Marlins baseball team.

Now with Viking's backing, Mr. Fleming will be charged with turning a storied family office with only $16.6 billion in assets into a broader concierge for the Rockefellers' peer set -- wealthy families, endowments, nonprofit foundations and other institutional investors. The idea is to bolt merger and other strategic advice onto the firm's existing wealth advisory and fund-management arms.

"The resonance of the [Rockefeller] name is huge," Mr. Fleming said. "Rather than having to spend time putting the brand on the map, I can focus on operating it and talking to clients."

Continue Reading Below

Viking, which has about $25 billion under management, will buy a majority of the firm and rebrand it as Rockefeller Capital Management. The purchase price isn't being disclosed, but a person familiar with the matter pegged it at low nine-figures, plus a commitment from Viking to invest more.

Rockefeller family members will continue to own about 10% of the company. Mr. Fleming will invest as well.

"This deal gives us the ability to reinvest in the business and offer our clients a broader array of services, neither of which we had before, " said David Rockefeller Jr., the firm's chairman.

Viking is one of the world's largest stock-focused hedge funds. It is led by the billionaire Andreas Halvorsen, a triathlete who earlier worked for the hedge-fund luminary Julian Robertson.

Wealth management, asset management and corporate advice are prized on Wall Street these days for their stable returns and little need for capital. Still, they are competitive and fragmented, with hundreds of small shops vying with the major banks.

Rockefeller & Co. traces its roots to 1882, when John D. Rockefeller launched an office to manage his oil fortune. It began taking outside money in 1979, and today the family accounts for about one-third of its assets, which are at about half their 2012 level.

CEO Reuben Jeffery III, a former Goldman Sachs partner who later worked in President George W. Bush's state department, will remain on Rockefeller's reconstituted board.

Mr. Fleming rose up the ranks as a Merrill Lynch investment banker, brokering deals for money managers and other financial firms. His crowning achievement: helping wrangle $50 billion out of Bank of America for a teetering Merrill in September 2008.

He joined Morgan Stanley a year later, where he reunited with his former Merrill colleague, Mr. Gorman, to run the firm's asset- and wealth-management business, which came to drive nearly half of Morgan Stanley's revenue after the financial crisis.

Seen as ambitious and well-rounded, he joined the board of fund manager Putnam Investments and taught at his law school alma mater, Yale University.

He also considered joining Pacific Investment Management Co. and private-equity firm Blackstone Group LP in senior roles, according to people familiar with the matter.

"I spent half my career in senior executive positions at public companies," he said. "I was looking for something else."

Write to Liz Hoffman at liz.hoffman@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 04, 2017 08:55 ET (12:55 GMT)