LAZARD, family of international bankers. ALEXANDRE LAZARD was born early in the 19th century at Sarreguemines, Lorraine, France, and migrated to the United States in 1847. He settled in New Orleans where he started a dry-goods business and in 1848 took his two brothers SIMON and ELIE into partnership. A year later their business was destroyed by a fire which devastated a large part of the city. They moved to San Francisco, California, during the gold rush and soon began trading in gold between San Francisco and Western Europe via New York City, where their cousin Alexandre Weill was put in charge of the transfers. They developed Lazard Frères into a successful banking house, establishing branches in Paris (1854) and London (1877). In 1908 the Lazards' San Francisco banking house was sold, and thereafter they centered their banking activities in New York, Paris, and London. The three houses were loosely interlinked and served, more recently, as investment advisers, as managers of Eurodollar bond offerings for large industrial companies and in arranging mergers, with emphasis on chemical, metal, and television industries, car manufacturing, and airlines. Besides their own investments in real estate and international banking corporations, they founded, in 1968, Lazard S.A., in order to participate jointly in underwriting syndicates. This departure reflected and promoted the international trend toward closer interlinking of separate national economies and individual enterprises. After World War II, the Paris firm Lazard Frères was headed by Pierre David-Weill (1900–1975), the grandson of Alexandre Weill. The New York firm Lazard Frères was headed by French-born André Meyer (1898–1979) who had joined the Paris house in 1926 and had fled in 1940 to the United States. The London firm Lazard Brothers was a corporation with major interests held by the firm of S. Pearson and Sons, in which David-Weill and Meyer owned minority interests.
T.A. Wise, in: Fortune (August 1968), 101–3, 156–65.
[Hanns G. Reissner]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.