Griswold step ends link to founder of Alex. Brown

April 12, 2005|By BILL ATKINSON

THERE WAS no formal announcement on the February day that Benjamin H. Griswold IV retired as senior chairman of Deutsche Bank Securities. Just a party in New York and words of thanks.

But when the 64-year-old Griswold walked out the door, so did the last link to Alexander Brown, the man who started the first investment-banking house in the country, and to the seventh generation in his family to work at the firm.

For the past six years, the former Alex. Brown chairman had worked at Deutsche Bank Securities, whose parent snapped up Brown when it bought Bankers Trust in 1999.

However, Griswold doesn't dwell on the past.

"There is a wonderful, wonderful history," he said. "Fortunately, there are books about it."

Perhaps no other company in Baltimore's history was as important to the city's development.

Alex. Brown operated its own line of clipper ships fostering overseas trade, formed the Baltimore Water Co., unified the trolley system, helped launch the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. and floated bonds to build the Bay Bridge. In most recent times, it took Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Starbucks, Outback Steakhouse and Krispy Kreme public.

Griswold has been in the investment banking business for 38 years, long enough to know that it is a young person's game, marked by backbreaking travel, intense competition and cutthroat negotiations.

"You cannot escape that pressure, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on vacations," Griswold said. "These guys at Goldman or JP Morgan neither sleep nor take any vacation. When you are coming in every day with Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JP Morgan you don't have a lot of time to think about clipper ships."

When Deutsche Bank acquired Alex. Brown, jobs were shifted to New York.

So on Monday mornings, Griswold hopped the Acela express train to New York, where he worked three days a week.

"It creates a little wear and tear ... ," he said. "It was time."

While at Deutsche Bank, Griswold headed a team of 20 investment bankers that put together transactions focusing on the country's 100 largest companies.

His group led Kraft Foods' $8.5 billion initial public offering; AT&T's $70 billion divestiture of its broadband business; Hewlett-Packard's $20 billion acquisition of Compaq; and General Growth Properties' $12 billion acquisition of the Rouse Co.

He is taking that experience to Brown Advisory, a fast-growing independent investment firm in Baltimore where this week he was named partner and nonexecutive chairman of its trust and securities subsidiaries.

Griswold will introduce new clients to the firm, and his "broad view of the investment horizon will be very helpful to us," said William L. Paternotte, a Brown Advisory partner. "His circle of contacts is terrific; he has got a very good Rolodex."

"He is a huge addition to this firm," said Michael D. Hankin, Brown Advisory's president and chief executive officer. "Ben represents years and years of experience."

Griswold also is a director of Black & Decker, Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers Foods and Baltimore Life Insurance Co.

In a way, Griswold is coming full circle joining Brown Advisory. The firm was started at Alex. Brown in 1993 and later acquired by a group of former Alex. Brown executives.

Employees embrace the same Alex. Brown mantra: "Client first, firm second, individual third."

While it is a fraction of the size of Deutsche Bank, Brown Advisory is growing. It manages $9 billion in assets and has offices in Baltimore, Washington and New York.

"It reminds me a lot of Alex. Brown in the late '70s and very early '80s," Griswold said. "I am very optimistic about this business and the prospects going forward. It is just a very exciting place to be."

T. Rowe Price executive finishes 2nd stage of race

Aran Gordon, the T. Rowe Price executive running in what is billed as the toughest footrace on earth, has made it through the first two stages, according to, a Web site tracking racers in the Marathon des Sables.

At 4:30 p.m. yesterday, Gordon was listed as finishing in 406th place out of 549 racers who had completed stage two in the Sahara. The Web site said 774 racers started the 23.3-mile second stage. It included a 2,625-foot climb up a wall of sand and stone with a 25 percent grade, according to a news release.

"In Arabic, they call it the climb that cleanses you of your sins," the release said.

On Sunday, Gordon and 777 runners from around the world started the seven-day, 150-mile race through Morocco's desert. The first stage was 18 miles.

Gordon, 44, suffers from hemochromatosis, a genetic metabolic disorder that causes iron to build up in the blood. His aim is to finish the race and raise $100,000 for Iron Disorders Institute, an organization dedicated to saving people with hemochromatosis.

Ex-Md. securities official named to board of NYSE

Ellyn L. Brown, Maryland's securities commissioner from 1987 to 1992, has been named to the New York Stock Exchange's board of directors.

NYSE members approved her nomination last week at their annual meeting.

Brown, 54, said she brings a new and unique perspective to the board, which was embarrassed by the pay scandal involving former Chairman Richard A. Grasso. She has sat across from investors who lost thousands, even millions, of dollars at the hands of unscrupulous investment specialists.

"Perhaps I am a little closer to the sense of what can happen to retail investors when things go wrong," she said.

Brown runs Brown & Associates, a corporate law and securities firm.

Alice M. Rivlin, budget director for President Bill Clinton, and Karl M. von der Heyden, a former vice chairman and chief financial officer of PepsiCo Inc., also have been nominated to the board.

Bill Atkinson's column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 410-332-6961 or by e-mail at bill.atkinson@balt

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.