The extended soap opera at

Morgan Stanley


reportedly is near resolution.

Directors of the storied investment bank are expected to meet Thursday to choose John Mack as the firm's next chief executive. An announcement could come once the appointment is official, according to published reports.

Mack would replace the man he helped bring to Morgan Stanley eight years ago, Phillip Purcell. The outgoing CEO was in charge of Dean Witter Discover at the time of the 1997 merger that created the current Morgan Stanley, a firm that has been wracked by infighting over Purcell's leadership for most of this year.

The return of Mack is vindication for a longtime securities industry power broker who himself was forced out of the Morgan Stanley executive suite in a struggle with Purcell four years ago. It also marks the ultimate triumph for dissident shareholders and employees who have been waging a bitter campaign in the press to oust Purcell for months.

Purcell announced his plans to step down earlier this month, saying the controversy surrounding his continued tenure made it impossible to run the firm effectively. The bank has endured wave after wave of high-profile defections, most notably that of legendary investment banker Joseph Perella, who quit the firm in April.

The stock closed Wednesday at $53.32.