Robertson CEO Forced Out Over Pay Dispute

From Bloomberg News

Robertson Stephens Inc. Chief Executive Robert Emery was forced out at the securities unit of FleetBoston Financial Corp. after he disregarded rules for setting employee pay, according to a regulatory filing.

Emery "contravened instructions and guidelines concerning compensation," said a filing with the National Assn. of Securities Dealers. Emery "chose to resign after he was informed" by FleetBoston that his "employment with Robertson Stephens could not continue," according to the document.

The pay dispute centered on assertions by executives at the No. 7 U.S. bank that Emery and other Robertson Stephens managers paid themselves $70 million more than they were owed, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Emery's group was due to get a 55% share of Robertson Stephens' revenue, or $840 million, and instead took $910 million, the paper said.

"I'm not going to confirm the $70-million figure and we're not going to discuss the compensation and the personnel matters concerning Mr. Emery," said FleetBoston spokesman James Mahoney.

Emery, who had been CEO for 15 months, didn't return phone calls.

Emery's April 11 departure is the latest sign of turmoil at San Francisco-based Robertson Stephens, a firm that helped finance the Internet boom and is now struggling with losses, executive departures and client defections, aftershocks of the dot-com slide.

Ten of 20 management committee members have departed since early 2000, and some longtime clients have gone to other investment banks. In the first quarter, Robertson Stephens lost money--$9 million--for the first time in at least a decade.

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