Morgan Stanley CEO plans to step down within the year, sparking Wall Street succession race


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Morgan Stanley chief James Gorman said Friday he plans to resign as CEO within the year, setting off a succession race atop one of Wall Street’s dominant firms.

The bank’s board has narrowed its CEO search to three “very strong” internal candidates, Gorman told shareholders at the New York-based firm’s annual meeting.

Gorman, 64, will take on the executive chairman role “for a period of time” after stepping down as CEO, he said.

“The specific timing of the CEO transition has not been determined, but it is the board’s and my expectation that it will occur at some point in the next 12 months,” Gorman said.

“That is the current expectation in the absence of a major change in the external environment,” he added.

Since taking over in 2010, Gorman has pulled off one of the more successful transformations on Wall Street. Through a series of savvy acquisitions, Morgan Stanley went from nearly being capsized during the 2008 financial crisis to a widely-respected wealth management juggernaut.

The firm’s investors have rewarded it with one of the top valuations among big bank peers. That’s because shareholders favor the steadier revenue streams generated by wealth and asset management over the more volatile fees from trading and advisory businesses.

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Morgan Stanley shares during CEO James Gorman’s tenure.

The announcement makes official Gorman’s desire to hand over the reins to another executive. Gorman has said publicly for the past few years that he didn’t plan on staying much longer as CEO, and on Friday he joked that he wouldn’t die while holding the title.

Gorman has “no plans to go out like Logan Roy,” the fictional CEO from HBO’s Succession series, he told investors.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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