Morgan Stanley (still) Denies UBS Acquisition Interest

Morgan Stanley still Denies UBS Acquisition Interest

Late last week a rumor began to make its way through the industry anew. Morgan Stanley was about to pull the trigger on a UBS purchase. We received calls, texts and in person conversations about who was saying what, when were decisions being made, and how it was all going to go down. Managers at both firms were reacting to the news. Recruits that were engaged with either firm were re-evaluating and communications departments were in overdrive. All for nothing it seems.Morgan Stanley still Denies UBS Acquisition Interest

As we chased down the group of folks that had created the kerfuffle it became obvious that it was a rumor with little substance. Here are a couple of quotes that somewhat convinced us that this was all much ado about nothing:

From an insider at Morgan Stanley, “Again, there is a serious disconnect with people that want to go down this road and reality. Paine Webber was bought by UBS for a ridiculous premium – and UBS would want that premium in return for any merger or acquisition consideration. It is a gigantic gap between what Morgan Stanley would be willing to pay and what UBS would be willing to sell for right now. I get the chatter given what has gone down with Credit Suisse and others that are considered foreign banks. UBS is a different animal altogether.

Another source was quick to dismiss the chatter from managers, “I checked on whether managers have been told to put the brakes on UBS recruiting. Absolutely false! (Remember what I told you when you were writing about us supposedly acquiring Credit Suisse’s US advisors. I did not steer you wrong.)”

So as best as we can tell this may have been a move by a manager or two who was trying to dissuade a big Morgan Stanley team from leaving for UBS by saying that MS was about to acquire UBS. That would be a pretty way to slow them down – albeit quite underhanded. In our estimation, that is where all of the chatter started and ended, late last week. Carry on.