Wall Street whiz to guide Microsoft

Associated Press

REDMOND — Microsoft has hired an investment guru described by Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer as one of the "top deal-makers on Wall Street" as senior vice president of corporate development and strategy.

Richard Emerson, former managing director of technology and telecommunications advisory services at international investment bank Lazard Freres &amp Co. LLC, will lead the software company’s corporate development activities, including mergers, acquisitions and partnerships.

It’s an area in which Microsoft could wield considerable power, a Seattle newspaper reported Saturday.

The company has cash reserves of $24.7 billion, even with this year’s stock-value decline of more than 50 percent. Microsoft stock closed Friday at $53.63.

"Richard’s wide-ranging experience in the technology and telecommunications spheres makes him a strong addition to Microsoft’s leadership team," Ballmer said in a statement released by Microsoft.

Emerson, who started at the new post Thursday, reports directly to Ballmer.

His hiring underscores the company’s interest in maximizing its investment strategy, spokeswoman Katie Fonner said.

"Microsoft certainly expects its corporate development group to get better at how it identifies, executes and manages investments for long-term shareholders and customer value," Fonner said.

The group’s primary focus is development of strategic partnerships, she said.

Emerson, 38, comes to the Northwest from Lazard’s San Francisco office. He also worked for the investment house Morgan Stanley, specializing in advising clients in the technology and telecommunications sectors on mergers, acquisitions and partnerships.

Transactions he participated in include SBC Communications’ acquisition of Pacific Telesis, its wireless joint venture with BellSouth and its purchase of Sterling Commerce. He also worked on Gemstar’s merger with TV Guide and many of MCI’s strategic initiatives.

Emerson has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from Stanford University, and a master’s in business administration from Dartmouth College.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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