Lazard's roots began in the 1840s with the emigration of five French brothers and several cousins to the United States. In 1848, Alexandre, Lazare, and Simon Lazard founded Lazard Frères & Co. in New Orleans as a dry goods merchant. By 1851, Lazard Frères had moved to San Francisco, where it would expand into banking and foreign exchange. In the same year, one of the brothers opened a New York office.
In 1854, Lazard Frères opened an office in Paris. It soon began advising the French government on gold buying. In 1870 the family opened an office in London.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the firm evolved into three
"Houses of Lazard" in the United States, France, and
England-separately managed but allied. The Lazard partners advised
clients on financial matters and enhanced their cross-border
network of relationships in business and government.
An early cross-border success came in 1928, when the French
office partnered with American investors to purchase and expand the
financing arm of Citroen, the French automaker. During the Great
Depression of the 1930s, Lazard mobilized its network again to help
save Citroen from bankruptcy.
In the economic recovery following World War II, Lazard solidified its role as trusted advisor to business and government leaders.
Some of the greatest names in 20th century finance established and enhanced Lazard's reputation, including André Meyer, widely regarded as a genius of investment banking; Michel David-Weill, who oversaw the firm's transformation into a mergers and acquisitions powerhouse; and Felix Rohatyn, whose many accomplishments include his pivotal role in saving New York City from bankruptcy in 1975.
In the latter part of the century, Lazard expanded into new markets around the world, becoming a global force in financial advisory and asset management services. Lazard was central to some of the largest and most challenging transactions of that time.
As the firm grew, Lazard fostered a unique culture that encourages individual initiative and discourages bureaucracy. This culture continues to attract some of the most talented, high-achieving professionals in finance.
As world commerce grew more tightly integrated, it became clear
that Lazard's organization needed to change in order to serve
clients even more effectively. In 2000, after more than 150 years
of separate management, the Houses of Lazard were formally united
into a single entity. In 2005, under the leadership of Bruce
Wasserstein, Lazard became a public company, with nearly two-thirds
of its shares owned by current and former employees. Since November
2009, Kenneth M. Jacobs has led the firm.
Lazard's history is engrained in its culture. To this day,
Lazard operates as a local firm in local markets but offers clients
the benefit of multinational access and global perspective. It is a
firm built on personal relationships. It is a firm that prizes
individuality and creative thinking. Most significantly, the
services it provides to clients continue to stem from a common