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临危受命:标普新帅上任在即

Katie Benner 2011年08月26日

这是一位曾在花旗集团解决了不少重大问题的高管,他现在正准备引领标普公司(S&P)渡过难关。目前这家评级巨头的日子并不好过,摆在他面前的是一个充满未知的未来,但他同样有机会获得巨大的回报。

    道格•彼得森今年9月即将出任标准普尔公司(Standard & Poor's)总裁,届时他将接手一系列令人头痛的事情——没几个人会羡慕这样的处境吧。标准普尔由于把美国主权信用评级从AAA调低为AA +而备受政界人士批评。美国司法部(The Department of Justice)正在对该公司就其在次级抵押贷款证券崩盘前仍给予这些证券最高评级一事展开调查。同时,监管机构正在想方设法,试图降低起诉评级机构的难度,并降低评级机构在全球金融宏观系统中的重要性。

    但彼得森在应对政府审查、提高行业标准,甚至修复公司严重受损的名誉方面已经树立了一定的声誉。

    彼得森于2004年被任命为花旗集团(Citigroup)日本业务首席执行官,就在这一年,日本金融厅(Financial Services Agency)责令花旗集团关闭其在日本的私人银行业务,称这家银行存在不正当交易行为,而且从事可能与洗钱有关的交易活动。花旗被禁止参与日本政府的债券拍卖,而且被禁止接受新客户的外币存款。日本金融厅对媒体称,花旗“过于看重”利润,而且培育了一套“无视日本法律法规而逃避法律的销售体系。”  

    时任花旗集团首席执行官的查尔斯•普林斯派遣彼得森前往日本找出并解决问题、修复与日本政府的关系,并使具有重要战略意义的私人银行部门重现生机。彼得森对日本业务部门进行了裁减整顿及彻底改革,并赢得了日本监管机构的支持。该银行之后顺利在东京证券交易所上市,还收购了日本第三大券商日兴证券公司(Nikko Cordial)。

    “独自一人身处异国他乡,需要关注的不只是营收和利润,”2008年3月至2009年8月期间曾担任花旗集团亚太区负责人的彭安杰说。目前,他已经就任万事达卡公司(MasterCard)CEO。他说,“还要与所在国政府打交道,妥善管理公司业务,还要倾听员工的民意,并加以引导。此外,还要适应置身于政治及监管机构的聚光灯之下。(彼得森)对这一切并不陌生,而他在日本及拉丁美洲的经历对他在标普的新工作大有助益。”

    彼得森婉拒了《财富》杂志(Fortune)的采访,但一份新闻稿援引他的话说:“我期待着率领标普团队,以标普的优势为基础,继续在全球各地拓展标普的事业。”

    彼得森似乎是维权投资者乐意看到的标普总裁人选。机构股东贾纳合伙对冲基金公司(Jana Partners)及安大略教师养老基金(Ontario Teachers)在提交给美国证券交易委员会(Securities and Exchange Commission)的一份报告中称,标普需要一位“独立监管人,帮助公司有效应对日趋复杂的国际监管环境,并加强与公众的沟通联络。”这两家机构都极力主张对标普母公司——麦格劳-希尔集团(McGraw-Hill)进行改革。

    花旗集团现任及前任员工都形容彼得森办事极端有条不紊、而且注重过程,这些个性凸显了他曾在克莱蒙麦肯纳学院(Claremont McKenna College)攻读数学专业的教育背景。而且,花旗集团所有员工都非常喜欢他。花旗集团与许多华尔街公司一样,长期以来一直笼罩在一种根深蒂固的政治文化氛围之中,其中还包括势力范围分割、拉帮结派和权力斗争等不良习气。但就在这样一家银行里,彼得森却以不树敌而著称。用彭安杰的话来说,彼得森情商很高。彭安杰说:“他总是彬彬有礼,即使他并不同意你的看法。”

    When Doug Peterson becomes president of Standard & Poor's this September, he'll inherit a series of headaches that few would envy. S&P is under fire from politicians for downgrading the United States from AAA to AA+. The Department of Justice is investigating the company for giving subprime mortgage securities top ratings just before they imploded. And regulators are trying to find ways to make it easier to sue ratings agencies, as well as make them less important in the grand scheme of financial markets.

    But Peterson has built a reputation as an executive who can handle government scrutiny, improve business standards and even repair a firm's deeply damaged reputation.

    Peterson was appointed chief executive of Citigroup (C) in Japan in 2004, the same year that the country's Financial Services Agency ordered Citi to shut down its local private bank for improper trading practices and engaging in transactions that could be associated with money laundering. The bank was banned from participating in government bond auctions and from accepting foreign currency deposits from new customers. The FSA told the press that Citi gave profits "undue importance" and cultivated a "law-evading sales system that disregards the laws and regulations of Japan."

    Then-CEO Charles Prince sent Peterson to figure out and fix what had gone wrong, to repair relations with the government and to bring the strategically important division back to life. Peterson cleaned house and overhauled the division, winning over regulators. The bank went on to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and acquire Nikko Cordial, Japan's third largest broker.

    "When you're all alone in a country, it's not just about revenues and profits," says Ajay Banga, who served as the head of Citi's Asia Pacific region from March 2008 to August 2009 before becoming the CEO of MasterCard. "It's about managing the franchise with governments. It's about answering to your employees and guiding them. It's about being in the political and regulatory spotlight. [Peterson] is no stranger to this and his experiences in Japan and Latin America will hold him in good stead."

    Peterson, who declined to speak with Fortune, was quoted in a press release as saying: "I look forward to leading the S&P team and continuing to expand the company around the world by building on its many strengths."

    Peterson seems like just the kind of executive that activist investors would want to see at the head of S&P. In a presentation filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jana Partners and Ontario Teachers, shareholders agitating for change at S&P's parent company McGraw-Hill (MHP), said that S&P needs an "independent oversight figure" who can navigate the business through "an increasingly complex global regulatory environment and heightened public focus."

    Peterson is described by current and former Citi employees as extremely methodical and process-oriented, traits that speak to his roots as a math major at Claremont McKenna College. And he is extremely well liked at Citi. He is known for not making enemies at a bank that, like many Wall Street firms, has long had an entrenched political culture complete with fiefdoms, cliques, and power struggles. And he has want Banga calls a high EQ. "He is always polite, even when he doesn't agree with you," Banga says.

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