Cruz Retires from Morgan Stanley

The surprise move came amid a raft of management changes at the investment firm.
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Updated from 5:58 p.m. EST

Morgan Stanley

's

(MS) - Get Report

well-known Co-President Zoe Cruz is retiring amid a raft of management changes at the investment firm.

Cruz, who had risen within the firm to become one of the top executives at Morgan Stanley during her 25-year tenure, will retire effective Dec. 1, according to a release issued by the firm late Thursday. Celebrated as one of the country's top female executives, Cruz was considered in many eyes as a successor to CEO John Mack.

The reasoning for Cruz's retirement was not immediately available, but it surprised many on Wall Street. A call to a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

"Zoe has always demonstrated a deep commitment to Morgan Stanley. She has helped to build some of our most important and successful businesses and worked tirelessly to strengthen and grow our global franchise," wrote Mack in the release. "We greatly appreciate the enormous contributions Zoe has made in a wide variety of roles, and we are confident that she will continue to do great things in the years ahead."

As a part of the Morgan shifts, Walid A. Chammah in London and James P. Gorman have been appointed co-presidents. Institutional securities will report to Chammah and wealth management and asset management will report to Gorman. Both executives will report directly to Mack.

Additional new appointments include Robert Scully, who also will report to Mack in the newly created Office of the Chairman. He will focus on handling Morgan Stanley's prized clients, including global sovereign investors.

Also, Michael Petrick will oversee the firm's trading business and serve as co-head of sales and trading alongside Jerker Johansson. Neal Shear will be named chairman of the Morgan's commodities business. The executives also will report directly to Mack.

"Morgan Stanley's business is strong and growing," Mack added noting that "today's markets, however, are changing rapidly, and we're putting in place a leadership team that is ideally suited to help Morgan Stanley realize the opportunities ahead, while continuing to navigate the current challenging conditions."

The management moves at Morgan Stanley come as many executives at financial firms have been shown the door. Deteriorating credit markets and a diminished view for the outlook in overall U.S. economy has humbled a number of high-profile Wall Street executives.

On Thursday, Mitch Caplan

stepped down as CEO of

E*Trade Financial

(ETFC) - Get Report

, as the company suffered heavy losses due to its questionable expansion into loans provided to borrowers with shaky credit.

Not least of the executives to falter in the face of billions in debt writedowns tied to subprime mortgages has been Stanley O'Neal, former CEO of

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

and

Citigroup

's

(C) - Get Report

former top dog Charles Prince. Both executives were ultimately asked to retire after incurring what could be a combined $20 billion in losses on subprime paper and shaky leverage loans.

Morgan Stanley is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings in mid-December, where analysts predict that it will earn 2 cents a share, on revenue of $5.6 billion next quarter. In early November, the bank disclosed that it was writing down $3.7 billion in assets.

The 52-year old Cruz is reportedly the richest woman on Wall Street. She has collected $100 million in bonus money over the past two years while at Morgan Stanley, according to the

The Sunday Times

in the U.K.

Born in Greece, Cruz has worked for Morgan Stanley since she graduated from Harvard Business School. She has seen Morgan through some rough times, when power struggles saw Mack depart and Phil Purcell step in as CEO for a much maligned-tenure, only to see Mack return again.

Cruz, who helped run Morgan's fixed income group, has been known for driving hard after profits at the U.S.'s second largest securities firm.

While it remains unclear if big losses at Morgan had anything to do with her departure, the currency the Wall Street veteran has earned over more than two decades could still make her a hot commodity for future jobs.

One prominent vacancy that continues to loom large: Citigroup's CEO post.