Peter Wilson Eccles
Lawyer and international investment banker
Dartmouth College A.B.
Class of 1958
Phi Beta Kappa, Fulbright
1963 Harvard (J.D.)
Born 1936 Inwood NY
Died 1996 Irvington NY
Quotes from Biographical Sources
Peter W. Eccles, an international investment banker credited with devising a strategy to help companies reduce their financial risk from foreign currency fluctuations, died Dec. 13 at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. He was 60 and lived in Irvington, N.Y. His family declined to disclose the cause of death. Mr. Eccles, whose varied career traversed both law and banking, was president of Eccles Associates, an international investment banking firm that he founded in 1990. Its clients include multinational companies and foreign investors.
Mr. Eccles worked as a lawyer at the World Bank and at the New York City law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in the 1960's. He later joined Goldman, Sachs & Company as a vice president, before moving to Ultrafin International Corporation, where he became a vice president and head of corporate finance. In the late 1970's, he joined Citicorp, where he held various positions at its headquarters and subsidiaries, including a post in Brazil. While at Citicorp, Mr. Eccles devised the currency swap, which is now widely used to hedge risk in the foreign exchange market.
Mr. Eccles discovered that global companies often had local currency reserves in certain countries that were blocked by exchange controls, in the same way that Citibank's own profits in some countries were blocked at times by government restraints on foreign exchange. So he negotiated an exchange of money between two companies, each of which needed the other's currency. Walter Wriston, the retired chief executive of Citicorp, called the swap ''simple in name and principle but arcane and complex in execution,'' according to a biography of Mr. Wriston by Phillip L. Zweig. In the book, Mr. Wriston credited Mr. Eccles as being the person most responsible for inventing and introducing the swap, which he said was ''the centerpiece of the new product culture, and of investment banking, at Citicorp.'' The development of the swap was a landmark in the globalization of Citibank, the biography notes, and over the years it generated hundreds of millions of dollars in earnings. According to the book, the first swap conducted by Citicorp involved less than $20 million; the transaction, between Corning Glass and a British company, took nearly eight months to complete. Not understanding why the deal was taking so long, Mr. Eccles was reportedly told that the British company feared that Citicorp would take its profits. Mr. Eccles, confident that other, more lucrative swap deals would follow, proposed a quick solution that shocked the British company. ''You can have all the profits,'' he told his colleagues to tell the British. ''Just let me close.''
Mr. Eccles was born and raised in Lawrence, L.I. He graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1958 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He was a Fulbright scholar at Cambridge University in 1958 and 1959, and studied at the Institut de Science Politique in Paris in 1959 and 1960. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1963. Mr. Eccles was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
He is survived by his wife, Achla Chib Eccles; a son, Peter Rahul Eccles of New York City; a daughter, Radika Elisabeth Weddle of Johannesburg, South Africa; his father, Wilson Eccles of St. Albans, Queens, and two sisters, Helen Harris of New York City and Barbara Eccles of Charlotte, N.C.
NYTimes Correction: Dec. 28, 1996: The comment -- that the swap was ''simple in name and principle but arcane and complex in execution'' --was made by Phillip L. Zweig in his 1995 biography of Walter Wriston, a former chief executive of Citicorp, not by Mr. Wriston.
Peter W. Eccles, 60, an Expert In International Banking, Dies. (1996, Dec 23, 1996). New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1996/12/23/nyregion/peter-w-eccles-60-an-expert-in-international-banking-dies.html
Profile image source: Dartmouth Aegis 1958