TOMBSTONES by Lawrence Lederman


A Lawyer's Tales from the Takeover Decades
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 In Wall Street parlance, ``tombstones'' are the black-bordered ads that powerbrokers take out to celebrate completed stock offerings, mergers, divestitures, and allied transactions. At one time, the author of this thoughtful and enlightening brief on what it was like to be a top securities attorney during casino capitalism's heyday had over 200 Plexiglas-encased tombstone miniatures in his partner's office at Manhattan's Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz (the law firm of choice for companies fighting off raiders, greenmailers, or other threats). Among other purposes, these mementos remind him that an advocate who began as a stranger to corporate America became a key player in its financial restructuring. Over the course of a career spanning four decades, Lederman has witnessed and participated in convulsive change. In addition to advising the embattled blue-chip likes of Crane, Macmillan, Newmont Mining, and West Point-Pepperell, he personally developed a recapitalization technique that allowed Multimedia to retain its independence. Along his adversarial way, the author rubbed shoulders and jousted with many of the acquisition era's heavyweights--Thomas Mellon Evans, Henry Kravis, Robert Maxwell, T. Boone Pickens, Bruce Wasserstein, etc.. Stressing that a lawyer's stock in trade is judgment (as opposed to that of an investment banker, who mainly brings cash and a bottom-line mind-set to the bargaining table), Lederman provides tellingly detailed accounts of high-stakes control battles in which he was involved. He also takes time to recount a tar-baby skirmish with obdurate N.Y.C. officials (on behalf of Phoenix House, a pro bono client) and to offer compassionate comment on Ilan Reich (a protÇgÇ who supplied inside information on pending deals to Dennis Levine). Low-key but altogether engrossing and insightful perspectives from a professional whose marketplace savvy enables him to convey a wealth of valuable insights on just what makes the world of big business go around.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-374-27845-8
Page count: 342pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1992