DEALS: Wall Street's Whiz Is Back

Wall Street's Whiz Is Back

Gerald Tsai, 59, is a legendary Wall Street figure who made millions as a mutual-fund manager during the go-go '60s. Now the Shanghai-born whiz is chief executive of Primerica, formerly American Can, once a pillar of Smokestack America and currently a $2.9 billion financial-services conglomerate. Last week Tsai burst back onto Wall Street when Primerica announced that it had agreed to buy Smith Barney, one of the country's best-known brokerage firms, for $750 million.

The acquisition caps Tsai's efforts to transform Primerica into a financial powerhouse. Since he joined Primerica, the company has shed more than 25 businesses and acquired 15...