For a job like this, who need big pay? Dossier: A. B. "Buzzy" Krongard, the New York banker and longtime Baltimorean, will become counselor to the CIA director.

January 22, 1998|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

Uncle Sam wants you, only it means a $4 million pay cut -- including guaranteed bonuses -- over the next year. What do you do?

If you're A. B. "Buzzy" Krongard, you jump at it.

Krongard said yesterday that he will leave Bankers Trust New York Corp. to join the Central Intelligence Agency, where he will be counselor to the director of the agency.

"I believe in the United States; at the age of 61, if ever I am going to make a change, it's now," Krongard said in an interview.

"I have an opportunity to pay back some of the benefits that I've had from being a citizen."

On Feb. 2, Krongard will leave the button-down world of investment banking for a seventh-floor office in CIA headquarters in McLean, Va.

His departure comes just five months after Bankers Trust completed the acquisition of Baltimore-based Alex. Brown Inc. in a deal valued at about $2.5 billion.

Krongard said he was happy at Bankers Trust, where he was responsible for BT Alex. Brown's private client services, its brokerage network and several other areas that employ about 2,000 professionals.

"I would have been enthusiastic about remaining," he said. "I had a great time. Nothing is driving me from this. I can't think of three jobs there are in the world that would have enticed me to leave this job. This happens to be one of them."

Krongard was sketchy about how the job opportunity materialized, but he said that over the past three months or so he had spoken with "some people down there," about joining the agency. "One thing led to another," he added.

Krongard has known CIA Director George J. Tenet for years, said Bill Harlow, the agency's director of public affairs. "Tenet is a big admirer of his," he said.

Krongard will advise Tenet on a variety of issues, including business practices and strategies the agency might adopt, Harlow said. He will also look for ways to help the organization run more efficiently.

"His expertise in the private sector is one thing that George Tenet wants to tap," Harlow said. "I think his portfolio will be broad."

Krongard declined to discuss the specifics of his role as counselor. "We will work that out," he said.

While details of his job are hazy, one thing that is clear is that Krongard will not make the big money that he did as an investment banker.

Krongard will give up a salary and bonus of $4 million a year as well as stock options to take the job. The CIA will also advise him on what he must do with 700,000 shares of Bankers Trust stock -- worth about $71 million -- he owns.

How much will he make at the CIA?

"I really don't care," he said. "I will work for anything they pay me. You don't do these things for money."

He won't, however, give up his mansion in Baltimore County where he resides with his wife. But he expects to rent a home or townhouse near McLean to avoid daily commutes.

Colleagues were not surprised by Krongard's decision to join the CIA. They have often joked with him about his interests in the "dark world."

"He always had a fascination with weapons and military strategy," said Mayo A. Shattuck III, co-chairman and chief executive at BT Alex. Brown. "What better job than the CIA? It's in his image. But this is a very overt position. He is not a spy or anything."

"It's a great opportunity for him," said Doug Kidd, managing director of corporate affairs at Bankers Trust. "He's fascinating personality. We are going to miss him."

Krongard, a former Marine Corps captain, is interested in military history and strategy. At least twice a week, he engages in full-contact sparring to keep his martial arts skills honed. And his vacations often include risk -- scuba diving amid whales and great white sharks.

Krongard is also a cigar smoker and he has been known to light up a Cuban on occasion. Will he have to give them up now that he is a federal employee?

"Fortunately," he said, "mine are all pre-Castro. Cigars last forever."

Pub Date: 1/22/98

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