After a prolonged battle among its top executives, Lazard filed with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
to sell as much as $850 million in stock of the investment bank. The preliminary prospectus did not disclose the number of shares offered, nor an estimated price range.
The so-called S-1 filing comes shortly after Lazard's biggest shareholder Michel David-Weill and its head, Bruce Wasserstein, hammered out the terms of an agreement in which Wasserstein has until the end of 2005 to list Lazard shares.
Previously, David-Weill had blocked plans for an IPO; before giving his blessing, the descendant of Lazard's original founders forced Wasserstein to agree to resign before his current employment contract expires if the deal fails.
The odds of a successful IPO for the more than 200-year old firm would seem to have increased dramatically since David-Weill first raised objections in 2003. The new-issue market just completed its
best week since August 2000.
Reflecting Lazard's pedigree, the deal's underwriters include the top firms on Wall Street:
Credit Suisse First Boston
, as well as Lazard subsidiary
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