Market Gives New AllianceBernstein (AB) CEO The Back Of Its Hand

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The board of AllianceBernstein (AB), controlled by majority shareholder AXA, dumped longtime CEO Lew Sanders. The stock has been way down recently. Over the last year it is off over 70%, but so are peers Legg Mason (LM) and Janus (JNS).

It is understandable that someone had to take the fall, but the man AB brought in does not appear to have a single important qualification for the job.

Peter Kraus was the head of global strategy at Merrill Lynch. He made some of the management at Bank of America (BAC), which bought Merrill Lynch, upset when he took the $25 million due him in his contract. He had only been at Merrill since September. Fair enough. But, he was almost certainly going to be a rich man without a job. At least the AllianceBernstein board could have picked someone with good long-term employment prospects. It would have looked less desperate.

AB’s stock dropped 9% on the news, another sign that Wall St. was not happy with the move, or the new CEO pick.

Kraus spent 22 years at Goldman Sachs (GS). There he served for seven years as co-head of the Investment Management Division and a member of the Management Committee, as well as the head of firm-wide strategy and chairman of the Strategy Committee. Those sound like great assignments. It begs the question of why he even left for Merrill Lynch.

Douglas A. McIntyre