Mr. Rubin has since suggested he did not have nearly as much influence at Citigroup as the public might have thought. But that has not stopped some critics from blaming him. “You were either pulling the levers or asleep at the switch,” Philip N. Angelides, the chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, told Mr. Rubin during a hearing in April.
That might help explain why Mr. Rubin said he was not looking to work again on Wall Street after Citigroup.
“When I left Citi in January, I had a whole bunch of people come to talk to me about a couple of different things,” he said in an interview. “I was not planning to take on another major commitment.”
Mr. Rubin said he “came over one day and sat in on a meeting” at Centerview and “it seemed like it would be very interesting to me.”
“I could help an extremely successful but younger firm grow, and I could work with clients.”
Despite the criticism of his tenure at Citigroup, some Wall Street denizens said Mr. Rubin was still seen as a powerful adviser who would attract Fortune 500 clients.
“He has some critics, but he still has a lot of credibility in the business world,” said Richard I. Beattie, chairman of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. “He’s a got a unique combination of experiences.”
Before hiring Mr. Rubin, Centerview sought the views of some clients.
“I went to one of my big clients who has very different political views than Bob does and he said, ‘Look, I think it would be fascinating to talk to him. I don’t agree with what he says, but I certainly want to hear his point of view,’ ” Mr. Pruzan said.
David M. Cote, the chief executive of Honeywell and a Centerview client, said he was interested in Mr. Rubin’s counsel. “Bob Rubin offers a sophisticated perspective on the macroeconomic issues affecting companies, industries and markets globally and has been at the nexus of the public and private sectors,” he said.
Centerview has become a fast-rising star in advisory work on mergers and acquisitions and has worked on some of the most prominent deals in recent years. The firm advised Kraft on its $21.6 billion acquisition of Cadbury of Britain, Pepsi on its $21 billion acquisition of its two independent bottlers and the News Corporation on its $5.6 billion acquisition of Dow Jones.
The firm has added some other well-known talent to its executive ranks, including James M. Kilts, a former chief executive of Gillette and Nabisco and a former board member of The New York Times Company; Stephen S. Crawford, a former co-president of Morgan Stanley; and Adam D. Chinn, a former partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
Mr. Rubin continues to work as co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, the head of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution and as a board member of Harvard University. He will devote about a quarter of his time to Centerview and keep his main business office there.
“If you’re going to be involved in policy issues, you have to be very current on what’s going on the economy,” Mr. Rubin said. “Obviously, Centerview provides a terrific window. It’s a symbiotic relationship and so it seemed to make sense.”Continue reading the main story