Donald Marron, the art collector and financier who led Paine Webber Inc. for 20 years until the retail brokerage’s $16 billion sale to UBS AG in 2000, has died. He was 85.

He died of a heart attack in New York, according to his wife, Catie Marron. She said her husband was heading out on Friday evening to a party for some of his staff and planned to come home after about 30 minutes to watch “The Irishman” with her and their son William. He never made it home.

“It was very fast,” Catie Marron said. “It’s my worst nightmare.”

Don Marron, a lifelong New Yorker, had a Wall Street career spanning seven decades and was very active in the modern art world and philanthropy. He’s best known for leading Paine Webber and selling the firm to Swiss giant UBS. His wife said he was “deeply” proud of how he handled the aftermath of that deal.

“People often lose jobs in mergers like these,” Catie Marron said. “Don made sure that he held people’s jobs and lives in place. He had options to sell to other places, but chose this route.”

He founded at least three New York-based companies: investment bank D.B. Marron & Co., economic data provider Data Resources Inc. and private-equity firm Lightyear Capital LLC.

His namesake company merged with institutional researcher Mitchell Hutchins & Co. in 1965. As head of Mitchell Hutchins, he led the firm’s 1977 merger with Paine Webber. Three years later, he was named chief executive officer of the company, marking the start of a tenure highlighted by acquisitions, growth in brokerage accounts and his fierce defense of the firm’s independence.

Marron was considered “a prodigy in his field,” according to a 1980 Wall Street Journal profile published when he was named Paine Webber’s CEO. He shielded the firm from fads like junk bonds and derivatives, and, after attempting to steer it in the direction of an investment bank, refined its focus on serving wealthy individuals.

When Marron joined in 1977, Paine Webber had about 2,270 brokers in 137 offices, according to a New York Times article that year. By the time of parent Paine Webber Group Inc.’s sale to Zurich-based UBS in July 2000, it was the fourth-largest U.S. brokerage with more than 8,500 brokers in 385 offices and 2.7 million customers.

Its focus on clients with at least $500,000 to invest provided the firm with steady, fee-based income. Averaging $186,500, its accounts were the largest in the industry.

First « 1 2 3 » Next