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The Rise of the Underdog: Ted Pick’s Extraordinary Journey to Potential CEO at Morgan Stanley



Ted Pick

In the world of high finance, where the stakes are sky-high and competition is fierce, there are stories that defy convention, tales of individuals who rise from humble beginnings to take the helm of financial giants.

The remarkable journey of Ted Pick, a man whose career has been marked by tenacity, innovation, and a relentless commitment to Morgan Stanley, is a prime example of such a narrative.

Pick’s path to potential CEO at Morgan Stanley began in an unconventional manner. He was the last addition to his analyst class, joining the firm three decades ago. As a young recruit, his first taste of Wall Street was far from glamorous; he found himself in a cramped room filled with the acrid scent of a datafeed machine. This was a world away from the boardrooms and corner offices that symbolize the finance industry.

However, it was precisely this unassuming beginning that laid the foundation for Pick’s incredible ascent. He embarked on a journey that took him through various facets of the financial sector, experiencing the rough-and-tumble trading floor, the exhilarating world of hot tech IPOs, and the dynamics of capital markets.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions, last month, Morgan Stanley elevated Ted Pick to the position of co-president, positioning him just one step away from potentially becoming the CEO of the esteemed institution.

Pick’s journey to this pivotal moment in his career is marked by significant achievements and noteworthy transformations. His leadership style, once characterized by bluntness and profanity, has evolved into a more polished and refined manner.

This transformation reflects not only his growth as a leader but also his ability to adapt and thrive in the ever-changing landscape of finance.

One of Pick’s most significant accomplishments at Morgan Stanley is the revitalization of the equities division. When he assumed leadership, the unit was struggling, losing clients and grappling with questions about its viability.

Under Pick’s guidance, the equities unit transformed from a struggling segment into a formidable powerhouse. It achieved the prestigious rank of No. 1, a testament to Pick’s ability to lead and inspire his team.

In the journey of revitalizing Morgan Stanley’s equities division, Pick displayed a unique leadership style. He was unafraid to make bold moves to drive change.

One such example is when he became concerned about the size of another executive’s office, which he deemed too extravagant for the position. His response was characteristically audacious: he called in a construction crew over the weekend to have the walls moved, effectively reducing the office size.

Following his success in equities, Ted Pick faced the challenge of resuscitating the fixed-income division, a segment that had perennially struggled to keep pace with larger rivals. He took the helm of this division in 2015 and initiated a series of transformative measures, including reducing the workforce by almost a quarter.

The subsequent recovery of the division has been hailed as a success story, underscoring Pick’s ability to revitalize even the most challenging areas of the business.

In 2018, Pick was entrusted with additional oversight of the firm’s dealmaking unit, a significant responsibility that he approached with his characteristic determination. Under his leadership, the mandate was clear: do not break it.

While other challenges have arisen, including the prime brokerage division’s significant loss in the wake of the Archegos Capital Management collapse, Pick remains committed to managing risk effectively and achieving success.

Despite his meteoric rise, Ted Pick has not lost touch with his roots. His office serves as a shrine to Morgan Stanley, with memorabilia from previous leaders and a cherished collection of spy novels. His dedication to the company and his colleagues is unwavering, and he is known for his passion and straightforward approach to leadership.

His impact extends beyond the walls of Morgan Stanley. Notably, Blackstone Group Inc., a global investment giant, enlisted Morgan Stanley to lead its initial public offering in 2007 based largely on Pick’s reputation and expertise.

Pick’s ability to inspire confidence and make bold decisions has left a lasting impression on those he has worked with.

Roberto Mignone, a hedge fund manager and a close friend of Pick, described his straightforward and passionate approach, stating, “That’s not exactly out of a corporate communications handbook in terms of motivation, but it shows you he’s very straightforward and passionate about his job. What you see is what you get.”

Ted Pick’s early life in Venezuela, where his father worked for a few years, provided the backdrop for his eventual entry into finance.

He studied at Middlebury, a private liberal arts college in Vermont, and it was there that he took the first steps towards a career in the industry. Remarkably, his college cohort included the son of S. Parker Gilbert, the former Morgan Stanley chairman who had taken the firm public in 1986.

This connection eventually led to an interview at Morgan Stanley, making it the institution that would become Pick’s lifelong home, apart from a brief stint in business school.

Today, Ted Pick operates from the 40th floor of Morgan Stanley’s headquarters, just a few doors down from CEO James Gorman and the leadership team.

His co-president, Andy Saperstein, is a longtime confidant of Gorman, responsible for running the firm’s massive wealth-management operations, making him another credible candidate for the CEO position.

What sets Ted Pick apart is his unwavering commitment to Morgan Stanley’s image as a scrappy underdog. During a visit to Goldman Sachs, one of the firm’s chief rivals, Pick couldn’t resist swiping a pencil and later lamented that even their stationery was superior.

He once recounted an encounter with Lloyd Blankfein, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, where he introduced himself as working for a small firm that Blankfein had probably never heard of. When Blankfein took the bait, Pick delivered the punchline: “Morgan Stanley.”

Ted Pick’s journey from a modest beginning to the precipice of potentially becoming the CEO of Morgan Stanley is an inspiring narrative of resilience, adaptability, and the unwavering pursuit of excellence.

As he stands on the brink of taking the reins of one of the financial world’s most iconic institutions, all eyes are on Ted Pick, the underdog who has become a dominant force in the world of finance.

His story is a testament to the enduring power of dedication and determination, a reminder that success is not determined by where you start but by how you rise above the challenges along the way.

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CBN Replaces Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc Management Team




The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has dismissed the top management team of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc (NSPM), appointing Abubakar Sule Minjibir as the acting Managing Director.

This development was disclosed in an internal memo titled “House Notice No. 2083 – Executive Management Changes,” signed by Soji Ogungbesan, General Manager of Corporate Services at NSPM.

The newly appointed interim executive management includes Abubakar Sule Minjibir as the Acting Managing Director, Mohammed Mustapha as General Manager of Finance and Strategy, and Adesoji Ogungbesan as General Manager of Corporate Services.

Minjibir succeeds Ahmed Halilu, the former MD and CEO of NSPM, who had been appointed by the former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2022.

Halilu’s appointment had sparked controversy due to his reported familial ties with Aisha Buhari, the former President’s wife.

The memo, dated July 10, 2024, stated: “The board has announced the immediate dissolution of the present executive management team of the NSPM and has approved the immediate constitution of an interim executive management team.”

The memo also assured staff of the new management’s commitment to their welfare and the strategic initiatives and organizational transformation developed by the board.

Staff members were encouraged to cooperate with the new management team to achieve the board’s strategic vision for the company.

Alongside Halilu, the other executives dismissed include Ado Danjuma, Executive Director of Corporate Services; Tunji Kazeem, Executive Director of Security Documents; Chris Orewa, Executive Director of the Lagos factory; and Victoria Lucky Irabor, Company Secretary and Legal Adviser.

The dismissal and appointment of new management come amid concerns raised by various groups about the previous leadership’s connections and the potential implications for the security and integrity of sensitive materials produced by the NSPM.

The Gravitas Group, an international advocacy organization, had previously condemned Halilu’s appointment, calling it a “family affair” and expressing concerns about the concentration of such sensitive responsibilities within a familial relationship to the President.

As the CBN moves forward with the new interim leadership, it aims to steer NSPM towards achieving its strategic goals and ensuring the integrity and efficiency of its operations.

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Company News

Dangote Refinery Buys 11 Million Barrels of American Crude Due to Domestic Shortages



Dangote refinery

The Dangote Refinery has announced plans to acquire an additional 11 million barrels of crude oil from the United States.

In a tender viewed by Bloomberg, Dangote Refinery purchased five million barrels of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Midland crude for delivery next month and in September.

The company has also initiated a tender process to buy another six million barrels of American crude for September.

Despite its reliance on local crude supplies, the refinery near Lagos has been forced to seek imports to sustain its operations.

With the ability to source crude from offshore terminals in just a few days, the refinery took in over 41 million barrels of feedstock in the first half of the year.

Notably, about a quarter of this amount was sourced from the United States.

Aliko Dangote, Chairman of Dangote Group, explained the necessity of importing crude oil as the refinery scales up production and explores alternative supply contracts.

“It makes economic sense for us to tender for crude. If we could source 100 percent Nigerian crude, then fine, but we can’t wait,” Dangote stated at the Africa CEO Forum 2024.

He further said it is important for a mix of different crude types to optimize operations, given the current limitations in domestic production.

The refinery’s recent acquisition contrasts with its earlier deliveries, which included 11 WTI cargoes, or nine million barrels, between February and May, alongside approximately 18 million barrels of Nigerian crude.

This move to secure a longer-term offtake agreement indicates a commitment to diversifying crude sources, particularly during a period of weak demand for Nigerian supply.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), which holds a 20 percent equity stake in the refinery, has faced difficulties meeting its 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude oil obligation.

In June, Nigeria’s crude output was around 1.28 million barrels per day, significantly below its estimated production capacity of 2.6 million barrels per day.

Factors such as crude theft, aging oil pipelines, low investment, and divestments by major oil companies have all contributed to declining production.

Despite various assurances from the federal government and the NNPC about meeting the country’s OPEC quota, Nigeria recorded an estimated 30 million barrels of underproduction in the first four months of 2024.

Efforts to curb insecurity in the Niger Delta, where Nigeria’s oil is extracted, have included a multi-billion-naira contract with local security groups and substantial spending on official security agencies. Nonetheless, oil theft, asset vandalism, and sabotage remain rampant in the region.

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NNPC Seeks $2 Billion Crude-Backed Loan Amid Mounting Debts



Mele Kyari - Investors King

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) is exploring the option of securing a $2 billion loan using crude oil pre-payments as collateral.

Mele Kyari, the group’s general manager, revealed that the company is seeking a loan against 30,000-35,000 barrels per day of crude production.

However, he did not disclose the exact amount of money NNPC aims to raise.

“We have no problem covering our gasoline payments. This is just money for normal business and not a desperate act,” Kyari told Reuters.

The funds raised from this loan are intended to support all of NNPC’s business activities, including boosting production growth.

Despite the assurance of financial stability, NNPC’s financial situation has raised eyebrows, with the company reportedly owing around $6 billion to international traders for imported petrol.

These traders have indicated that NNPC is taking longer to make payments, exceeding the typical 90-day window.

Further complicating matters, NNPC’s debt includes overdue payments ranging from $4 billion to $5 billion for January imports alone.

This has led several international petrol suppliers to withdraw from recent tenders.

Kyari remains optimistic, stating that the loan will be a syndication with regular partners who have longstanding business relationships with NNPC.

He anticipates concluding the deal within the next two months.

The identity of the lender remains uncertain, with sources indicating that the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) may be unable to extend its exposure to Nigeria to the desired level.

Efforts to get confirmation from Olufemi Soneye, NNPC’s chief corporate communications officer, regarding the new oil-backed loan proved unsuccessful.

This potential $2 billion loan follows NNPC’s recent $3.3 billion emergency crude repayment loan secured on August 16, 2023.

Arranged by Afreximbank, the loan was aimed at supporting the naira and stabilizing the foreign exchange market. It also intended to back the federal government’s monetary and fiscal reforms.

NNPC’s pursuit of the new loan underscores the challenges facing Nigeria’s oil sector, which has been grappling with fluctuating oil prices, operational inefficiencies, and financial mismanagement.

As the company seeks to bolster its finances, the outcome of this loan negotiation could have significant implications for the country’s economic stability and its energy sector’s future.

The oil-backed loan strategy reflects NNPC’s broader efforts to leverage its crude production capacity to secure necessary funding.

However, the increasing debt levels and delayed payments to international traders highlight the pressing need for comprehensive reforms and efficient management within Nigeria’s oil industry.

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