Morley was chief executive of Links Holdings, a company that dealt in mortgage assets, when he and Walter met in 1999. Morley had been working with Peter Lawson-Johnston II to form Guggenheim Partners, and all three men hit it off, said a company insider who was not authorized to speak publicly about the relationship.
Lawson-Johnston is a great-grandson of Solomon R. Guggenheim, the founder of the New York art museum that bears the family name.
Guggenheim Partners, which has headquarters in Chicago and New York and an office in Santa Monica, manages about $125 billion for wealthy individuals and institutional investors such as pension plans. In all, the firm has 25 offices in nine countries, and its 2,200 employees include investment bankers, securities traders, risk managers and research analysts.
Over the last decade, Guggenheim Partners has built a reputation on Wall Street for being low-key but aggressive. It performed well during the financial crisis, which helped it scoop up marquee bankers including former Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz. In addition to traditional investments in stocks and bonds, the firm invests in distressed companies in hopes of turning them around and also runs hedge funds that engage in sophisticated trading tactics.
A major player in corporate debt, the firm has snapped up a variety of investments, including insurance companies, model-train maker Lionel and a stake in the venture that owns the Hollywood Reporter trade publication. It has been in negotiations to buy Deutsche Bank’s asset management business, a move that would quintuple its holdings to more than $600 billlion, Bloomberg News reported in February.