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This Morgan Stanley wealth advisor appears to be Elon Musk's main money man

  • The Twitter-Musk legal battle has given a clue as to who manages Elon Musk’s billions.
  • Twitter subpoenaed Jon Neuhaus, managing director at Musk’s favored bank, Morgan Stanley.
  • Here is what we know about the elite wealth advisor with nearly $80 billion in client assets.

The legal battle between Twitter and Elon Musk has yielded a clue as to who manages the world’s richest person’s finances.

On September 1, the social media giant subpoenaed 18 bankers to testify in the suit, which seeks to compel Musk to follow through with the $43 billion acquisition of Twitter. The bulk of the individuals are technology investment bankers at Morgan Stanley, which arranged the deal financing before Musk sought to back out of the transaction.

But buried in the filings was the subpoena of Jon D. Neuhaus, a private wealth advisor and managing director at Morgan Stanley who has been with the bank for nearly 17 years. (Neuhaus is not party to the lawsuit.) His nine-person team, which he leads with fellow banker Frank Malone, manages more than $78.8 billion in assets for some 150 families and their foundations, according to Morgan Stanley’s website. Neuhaus and Malone serve clients worth at least $2 million, and both have been recognized as top advisors by Barron’s, Forbes, and the Financial Times.

Musk has a long history with Morgan Stanley, which started extending loans to the Tesla CEO in May 2011, per Securities and Exchange Commission filings, secured by his shares of the electric automaker. His right-hand man, Jared Birchall, even worked with Neuhaus at Morgan Stanley as well as Merrill Lynch earlier in their careers.

Until now, Neuhaus has not been publicly tied to Musk other than through his association with Birchall. One former colleague of both the bankers told Insider that their Merrill Lynch team, which moved to Morgan Stanley in 2006, served Musk.

Morgan Stanley declined to comment. Here is what we know about the veteran wealth manager.

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Jon Neuhaus came from a solidly middle-class background

Neuhaus, 50, was raised in Connecticut, according to an article in Green Bay Press-Gazette from 2001. He told the local paper that he was a diehard Green Bay Packers fan thanks to his father, a Milwaukee native. Neuhaus even produced a film in 2017 called the “The 60 Yard Line,”  which followed Packers fan who lives near Lambeau field, and had a bit part as a talent scout.

Neuhaus’ father was a minister and his mother was a teacher, he said in an interview with the Red Jacket Society, a group of supporters of educational non-profit City Year. He described his upbringing as “middle class” and said he relied on scholarships for much of his education. Neuhaus attended the prestigious Phillips Exter Academy in New Hampshire as well as the University of California at Berkeley.

According to Neuhaus’s LinkedIn profile, he interned at the White House and for then-Democratic Congressman Mel Levine from California during two summers as an undergraduate. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in political science in 1995, he went into consulting, spending two years at Deloitte and three at Washington, D.C.-based firm Westchester Consulting Group.

He joined Merrill Lynch in 2002 where he worked with Musk’s future right-hand man

After getting an MBA from Northwestern University in 2002, Neuhaus joined Merrill Lynch’s private-banking-and-investment group (known as “PBIG”) at the bank’s downtown Los Angeles office in Century City. The division, referred to as PBIG, catered to clients with at least $10 million in assets.

He worked under Malone, who had been a high-net-worth wealth manager at Goldman Sachs in New York. Malone had decamped two years earlier from Goldman with a team that included Birchall, according to three former colleagues.

In 2006, Malone and Neuhaus left Merrill Lynch for Morgan Stanley. At the time, they had $3 million in trailing-12-month commissions combined, according to trade publication On Wall Street. Birchall later joined their team in 2010 after being discharged from Merrill Lynch for unspecified reasons. The bank alleged that Birchall had engaged in “conduct resulting in management’s loss of confidence including, sending correspondence to a client without management approval,” and declined to clarify the cause to Insider.

It is unclear if Musk became a client of Malone and Neuhaus while they were at Merrill Lynch. But by 2011, Musk was taking out loans with Morgan Stanley that were secured by his Tesla stock in order to finance his lifestyle without selling his equity. In December 2018, Musk took out $61 million in mortgages on five properties in California, all with Morgan Stanley, according to recorded deeds. As of February 12, 2020, his outstanding balance with the bank was $304 million, per an SEC filing by Tesla.

Musk’s family office head is still in Morgan Stanley’s corner

Birchall left Morgan Stanley in 2016 to run Musk’s family office, Excession LLC, but he still goes to bat for the bank. For instance, when Musk was considering taking Tesla private, Birchall advocated that he include Morgan Stanley alongside Goldman Sachs in the transaction, as shown by recently unsealed court documents from a class-action lawsuit.

In a text to Musk, he stressed that Morgan Stanley had gone above and beyond for Musk in the past, providing his largest personal line of credit, letters of credit and guarantee at “little to no charge,” as well as free work for The Boring Company.

“They expect GS to be heavily involved, but they hope to be recognized for being a strong resource for Tesla and for you personally over the years,” Birchall wrote. “They’ve been our best resource on the personal side, by far.”

The transaction went nowhere, but Morgan Stanley was hired as an advisor, according to Bloomberg.

When Musk requested in April that Morgan Stanley arrange billions of dollars in debt financing in under a week to buy Twitter, the bank rose to the challenge for the longtime client.

The relationship goes both ways, as Birchall’s eldest son, Benjamin, interned for Malone and Neuhaus last summer, according to the Brigham Young student’s LinkedIn profile.