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Health fears hit Lazard's Wasserstein

BRUCE Wasserstein, the 61-year-old chairman and chief executive of Lazard who is leading the team advising Kraft on its &pound;10.2bn bid for Cadbury, has been hospitalised with an irregular heartbeat.<br /><br />Lazard yesterday said Wasserstein is in &ldquo;a serious but stable condition and is recovering&rdquo;.<br /><br />Lazard shares yesterday dropped two per cent to $41.01 on the news that its hard-hitting boss was in hospital. <br /><br />Lazard hired Wasserstein in 2001 in a bid to revitalise the advisory firm which was once heralded as the best adviser in the business.<br /><br />Wasserstein is famous in Wall Street for advising on some of the biggest debt-funded takeovers in the merger boom of the late 1980s including Philip Morris&rsquo;s $13bn bid for Kraft, and KKR&rsquo;s $31bn offer RJR Nabisco, which was recorded for posterity in the book Barbarians at the Gate by Bryan Burroughs and John Helyar.<br /><br />Fears were immediately raised about how Wasserstein&rsquo;s condition might hit Kraft&rsquo;s bid for Cadbury. Kraft has until 9 November to table a formal offer or walk away.<br /><br />Kraft has enlisted a hard-hitting roster of advisers, which include Citigroup and Deutsche Bank&rsquo;s heavyweights, Ernst &amp; Young and Clifford Chance. <br /><br />Evolution Securities analyst Warren Ackerman said the rest of Kraft&rsquo;s advisers would be watching Cadbury&rsquo;s update to see how much they need to sweeten the offer for Cadbury. <br /><br />He added: &ldquo;This won&rsquo;t stop Kraft. I think they&rsquo;ll still go in guns blazing.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>FAST FACTS </strong> KRAFT&rsquo;S CADBURY OFFER<br />&9679; Kraft announced a proposed offer for Cadbury last month, which valued the company at &pound;10.2bn and its shares at 745p.<br />&9679; Cadbury immediately dismissed it,&nbsp; but analysts believe it is just a matter of pricing.<br /><br /><strong>BRUCE WASSERSTEIN<br />LAZARD <br />CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE<br /></strong>Bruce Wasserstein, 61 has been a heavyweight on Wall Street since the 1980s.<br /><br />Brooklyn-born Wasserstein graduated from the University of Michigan before enrolling at Harvard Law School at 18. <br /><br />After graduating with an MBA he attended the London School of Economics and went to Cambridge University as a Knox Travelling Fellow.<br /><br />Wasserstein joined elite law firm Cravath, Swaine &amp; Morre, but soon traded life at the law firm for the faster pace of Wall Street.<br /><br />He then joined investment bank First Boston, where he and Joseph Perella, another star Wall Street banker, built an M&amp;A practice before creating Wasserstein Perella &amp; Co in 1988. He later sold his firm to Germany&rsquo;s Dresdner Bank in 2001 for $1.5bn.<br /><br />He has served as a director of Lazard since 2002, and after taking the company public in May 2005 he was named the firm&rsquo;s chief executive.<br /><br />Wasserstein has helped broker more than 1,000 transactions worth more than $250bn, including Time&rsquo;s merger with Warner Brothers. <br /><br />Over the years, he has earned a reputation as a brilliant but hard-nosed banker who always found a way to get deals done. <br /><br />Among other schemes, Wasserstein invented the &ldquo;Pac-Man defence&rdquo; where a takeover target turns and buys its would-be acquirer.<br />