Alex. Brown Meeting Likely Its Last

Record For Brevity Eludes Annual Holder Gathering

4 Minutes, 9 Seconds

197-year-old Baltimore Firm Has Its Best Year But Lost A Little In Speed

April 23, 1997|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

Nothing was going to prolong Alex. Brown Inc.'s annual meeting yesterday.

Not the fact that this was its first meeting since the company had its best year ever -- with record earnings, and revenues topping $1 billion.

Not the fact that this was the first meeting since agreeing this month to be acquired by Bankers Trust New York Corp.

Not even the fact that this very likely was the last annual shareholders meeting in Alex. Brown's 197-year history.

True to form, A. B. "Buzzy" Krongard, Alex. Brown's no-nonsense chairman and chief executive, wanted to keep the meeting moving briskly.

"Should we go for a record?" he asked the company's chief financial officer, Beverly L. Wright, before the start of the meeting.

Last year, Krongard breezed through it in less than three minutes.

Yesterday, though, he faltered. The meeting stretched on for four minutes and nine seconds. Krongard, who occasionally glanced at his watch, could have shaved off 29 seconds had he not adjourned the meeting twice.

He spoke quickly.

"Will the meeting please come to order," Krongard said.

He introduced himself to the gathering of about 75 shareholders who met in a company audiovisual room on the 23rd floor of the company's office tower on South Street.

Then, he introduced Alex. Brown's directors. That took 12 seconds.

Next, came the election of nine directors -- the first order of business.

Krongard whipped through that in 36 seconds to the chuckles of shareholders who knew this was going to be a quick one.

It took even less time for the company to amend Alex. Brown's employee stock purchase plan -- 33 seconds.

Krongard chided an associate who spoke during the meeting: "You blew that one sentence," he said. "We could have knocked another 10 seconds off."

The last month had been a blur -- seemingly as fast as yesterday's meeting.

On April 6, Krongard signed an agreement to sell the company to Bankers Trust New York Corp. after days of round-the-clock negotiations.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter, and both Krongard and Mayo A. Shattuck III, Brown's president and chief operating officer, will become vice chairmen of the board of Bankers Trust. The executives signed on to work with Bankers Trust for two years.

Alex. Brown shareholders will own about 20 percent of Bankers Trust, the country's seventh largest banking company with $120 billion in assets.

The merged company will have almost 18,000 employees, $123 billion in assets and operations in more than 50 countries.

The acquisition puts to an end the rich history of Alex. Brown, the country's oldest investment banking house.

But there was no hoopla or emotional speeches yesterday.

Krongard said those would be saved for the company's partners meeting, scheduled for last night at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel.

"I'm sure there will be toasts and tears and maudlin speeches," Krongard said.

Pub Date: 4/23/97

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