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Bruce Wasserstein Hospitalized

10/12/09 12:22 PM ET   AP

Bruce Wasserstein

NEW YORK — Bruce Wasserstein, a prominent Wall Street dealmaker and CEO of Lazard Ltd., was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat.

Wasserstein is in serious but stable condition and is recovering, the company said in a statement late Sunday.

Wasserstein, 61, has served as head of Lazard since 2002. He took the company public in May 2005 and was named its CEO.

Wasserstein is in the middle of serving a contract that keeps him at the company through 2012.

Lazard has remained relatively strong throughout the economic downturn. Its second-quarter profits fell 18 percent to $28.2 million, or 34 cents per share, but easily surpassed expectations. New York-based Lazard's financial restructuring business has thrived during the downturn, offsetting declines in mergers and acquisitions advisory business.

Merger activity is expected to pick up in the coming quarters as the economy and financial markets begin to recover. Lazard is currently serving as the financial adviser for Kraft Foods Inc.'s unsolicited $16.7 billion takeover bid of British candy maker Cadbury PLC.

Aside from his work at Lazard, Wasserstein serves as chairman of Wasserstein & Co., a private investment firm. Wasserstein & Co. targets investments between $30 million and $150 million. It has investments in companies ranging from Penton Media Inc., a publisher of trade magazines, to gourmet food seller Harry & David.

Wasserstein also owns New York Media Holdings LLC, which publishes New York magazine.

He has been a fixture on Wall Street since the 1980s, when he helped run First Boston Corp., before co-founding an investment bank, Wasserstein Perella Group Inc., with Joseph Perella.

Wasserstein worked on such landmark deals as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts' takeover of RJR Nabisco in the late '80s, and the Morgan Stanley-Dean Witter and AOL-Time Warner mergers.

Wasserstein was CEO of Wasserstein Perella between 1988 and 2001 before selling it to Germany's Dresdner Bank AG for about $1.4 billion.

Forbes magazine estimated Wasserstein's net worth at $2 billion.

Wasserstein is the brother of Wendy Wasserstein, a Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who died in 2006.

Lazard said it does not plan to provide any further updates on his condition.

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Filed by Danny Shea  |