By Lauren Tara LaCapra
June 12 (Reuters) - Morgan Stanley’s brokerage joint venture with Citigroup unit, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, will eventually drop the Smith Barney name, the investment bank’s chief executive said at an investor conference Tuesday.
The name change, to Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, has been the subject of speculation for more than a year, but Morgan Stanley Chief Executive James Gorman for the first time confirmed the branding plan in a public setting.
“It will eventually be called Morgan Stanley Wealth Management,” Gorman told the conference.
Morgan Stanley agreed in 2009 to acquire Smith Barney from Citigroup in stages, with a timetable to complete its takeover by 2014. Morgan Stanley currently owns 51 percent of the venture and recently announced it had approached Citi about acquiring an additional 14 percent.
Morgan Stanley has controlled and managed the venture since the deal closed in May 2009, and it was widely expected that Smith Barney would eventually join many other venerable Wall Street names in the history books.
Early last year, it emerged that Morgan Stanley polled some clients about potential new names for the brokerage division, and that none of the choices included “Smith Barney.” That news followed an announcement that Charles Johnston, the highest ranking Citigroup executive to have a senior leadership role at the venture, was retiring at the end of 2011.