Morgan Stanley Money Manager Cuts Wipes Out '96 Acquisition

October 2, 2003 ( - Poor investment performance drove Morgan Stanley's decision to sack dozens of asset management unit employees including money managers who ran billions of dollars in domestic equity positions.

According to a Reuters report, the firings also effectively wiped out much of a Philadelphia firm it bought in the mid-1990s for $350 million. “All the equity guys at what used to be Miller Anderson & Sherrerd have been dumped,” one of Reuters’ unnamed sources said. “It caught everybody totally by surprise.”

At least 12 portfolio managers in the Philadelphia office were let go, in addition to several analysts and traders, according to the source. The wave of cuts also affected Morgan Stanley staff in New York, Texas and Illinois.

Morgan Stanley acquired Miller Anderson & Sherrerd in January 1996, seeking to boost income from fees and agreed to leave the Miller Anderson management team in place. Miller Anderson had $33 billion in assets when it was acquired.

But stock losses and overlap with Morgan Stanley’s Van Kampen Inc. mutual fund unit in Houston contributed to the deep cuts in Pennsylvania, one of the Reuters sources said. Morgan Stanley’s money management arm currently has $433 billion in assets and employs about 400 portfolio managers, research analysts and traders worldwide.

Connie Kain, Morgan Stanley spokeswoman, would only tell Reuters “These changes are part of our ongoing commitment to put client assets with strong teams.”

Among the managers let go was former Merrill Lynch & Co. veteran Rick Behler, who oversaw more than $5 billion in various funds. At Van Kampen in Houston, investment manager Jeff New, who oversaw about $2 billion, also was fired. New could not be reached for comment.

The job cuts were not limited to managers in any one investment area, but rather stretched across the spectrum of small, medium and large US stocks, the sources said.