Morgan Stanley Won't Spin Off Discover Card

Wall Street firm Morgan Stanley (MWD) said Wednesday it will not spin off its Discover Financial Services (search) credit card arm, as was pondered under former Chief Executive Phil Purcell (search).

Citics have claimed the credit card division has been only modestly profitable and unrelated to the company's high-end financial services. Discover has generated strong cash flow and consistent earnings for the company, however, giving Morgan Stanley liquidity for its other investment banking, asset management and brokerage divisions.

The company's board of directors instead chose to sell Morgan Stanley's aircraft-leasing division, AWAS, considered a non-core asset as new CEO John Mack (search) focuses on more traditional investment and credit divisions.

"Our overriding goal for Morgan Stanley is to be the clear leader in offering premier, innovative financial services to our clients, while delivering superior returns to our shareholders," Mack said in a statement. "The decisions to keep Discover, divest the aircraft leasing business and strengthen our retail business are our first steps toward achieving that goal."

He added that the company will identify other moves in the months ahead, and expressed disappointment with Morgan Stanley's bottom line, saying that "our current level of profitability is unacceptable."

The board also chose three new directors: former BCom3 Group Chairman Roy Bostock; former AT&T Vice-Chairman Charles Noski; and O. Griffith Sexton, adjunct professor of finance at Columbia Business School and a longtime investment banker.