Morgan Stanley

(MWD)

confirmed the resignation of legendary investment banker Joseph Perella Wednesday, the latest fissure in the company's increasingly divided boardroom.

Perella, the Morgan Stanley vice chairman who came to the firm in 1993 after heading Wasserstein Perella with Bruce Wasserstein, resigned along with Tarek Abdel-Meguid, Morgan's head of investment banking.

Michael Uva, the firm's head of European investment banking, and Cordell Spencer, deputy head of worldwide investment banking, were named co-heads of the investment banking division.

"Simply put, Terry Meguid and Joe Perella have helped build the best investment banking franchise in the world, and they have assembled the strongest team of investment bankers anywhere," Purcell said in a statement. "We respect their decision to leave, we value the time they will contribute to ensuring an orderly transition, and we will miss them greatly."

The 63-year-old Perella, who was elevated to vice chairman last month following the appointment of Zoe Cruz and Stephen Crawford to the position of co-presidents, was gracious in a statement accompanying word of his resignation.

"The outstanding professionals at Morgan Stanley are the most talented group of people with whom I have ever had the privilege to work," Perella said. "They are, without question, the brightest and the best, and I take pride in the fact that they will continue to deliver excellence to clients day in, day out, long into the future."

Still, the departure of Perella after he initially agreed to stay with the firm will improve the hand of dissident shareholders who have been calling for Purcell's ouster. A group of eight former investment bankers at the firm have been vociferously promoting that cause, and last week named former Morgan Stanley executive Robert Scott as their preferred successor.

The stock was recently down 89 cents, or 1.6%, to $53.59.