Dissident Morgan Stanley shareholders refused to abandon their campaign against Philip Purcell on Monday, when they released a third letter challenging his leadership of the investment bank.
The letter requests a meeting with the board and sets out 14 questions the dissident shareholders believe it should answer.
Its release is the latest effort by the group of eight retired employees who act as advisory directors to the Wall Street bank to keep the pressure on Mr Purcell after a controversial management shake-up on March 28.
Since then, Mr Purcell has made senior appointments to replace staff who have quit, and has announced the spinning-off of Discover, Morgan Stanley’s credit card operation.
The letter to the board said: “You have chosen to react to our concerns and those of others by announcing a radical restructuring that has cost the firm some of its most talented professionals and further entrenched and insulated Mr Purcell.
“Additionally, in an abrupt and poorly explained about-face in corporate strategy, you have decided to spin-off Discover.”
The letter added: “How many more talented employees must leave before the board understands that the value of the Morgan Stanley franchise is deteriorating while the firm is facing a crisis of confidence in the chairman and CEO?”
Morgan Stanley retorted that the letter was “a rehash” of issues raised over the past two weeks.
The dissidents alluded to comments made by Mr Purcell in the Financial Times last week when he said the dispute was “over …in terms of strategy and over in terms of leadership”.
They said their campaign was “not a game of winning and losing”. The questions the dissidents want the board to consider include the departure of top executives; why it approved the management revamp; whether it has approved retention payments; and why the company decided to spin-off Discover after saying it wanted to keep it.
Other questions cover governance issues related to the terms of board members and relationships with regulators.
Bob Scott, a former Morgan Stanley president, is the group’s chosen successor to Mr Purcell. The group is represented by Bob Greenhill, a veteran investment banker and former Morgan Stanley employee. It claims Mr Purcell has failed to make a success of the 1997 merger of Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter.
The first letter, dated March 3, was private. The second, dated March 31, and Monday’s were open letters.
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