NEW YORK: The remarkably public crusade by eight former executives at Morgan Stanley (MS) to oust chairman and CEO Philip Purcell is being quietly managed by Edelman.
Andrew Merrill, global MD of Edelman's financial communications practice, has been serving as the chief media contact and spokesman for the so-called "Group of Eight" since they began their public campaign last month. A team of five in the firm's New York office is supporting his work.
The agency declined an interview request, citing the ongoing nature of the work.
Edelman's involvement includes just about every aspect of the group's communications, including running a website, issuing press releases, and designing and placing ads.
The group sent a letter to Purcell and the board on March 3 calling for him to step down because of his "failure of leadership." A knowledgeable source said that the group first brought in Edelman in case that letter leaked and only began the public portion of the campaign in response to Purcell's hard-line stance, particularly his promotion of two allies on March 28 that caused other executives to leave the firm.
Three days later, the group published its first "open letter" ad in The Wall Street Journal.
The source said that MS' independent directors, institutional shareholders, and employees are the campaign's target audiences.
The battle for control of the firm has garnered prominent financial and general media coverage worldwide, as Purcell struggles to solidify his position against coordinated waves of criticism. Several top MS executives and traders have left the firm during the fracas, and competitors are reportedly trying to lure others away.
MS spokesman Andrew Walton declined to comment on the issue. But MS has maintained since the conflict began that the board is solidly behind Purcell and his strategy for the company.