Shares of Lazard Ltd dropped nearly 3 percent on Thursday following news that its chief executive, legendary Wall Street deal maker Bruce Wasserstein, had died at the age of 61.

Shares of Lazard hit a low of $40.63, and traded at $41.61, down 2.7 percent, or $1.16, in morning trading. The stock has gained 38 percent so far this year.

Wasserstein's death on Wednesday left major questions about the future direction and leadership of the investment bank he headed.

Lazard said Steven Golub, vice chairman of the company, would serve as interim CEO. Other bankers, including Gary Parr and Terry Savage, are also under consideration for the CEO post, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Any void in leadership creates uncertainty, and the market doesn't like uncertainty, said one trader who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

The stock will likely face some pressure until the succession question gets answered and the new CEO spells out a strategy, the trader said.

Lazard had announced on Sunday that Wasserstein, 61, had been hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat and his condition was serious, but said he was stable and recovering. On Wednesday, the company said the cause of death had not yet been determined.

Wasserstein, known as Bid 'em up Bruce -- a nickname he despised -- had been involved in one of the year's biggest potential deals, advising Kraft Foods Inc in its proposed takeover of U.K. candy maker Cadbury Plc .

Forbes magazine recently estimated his wealth at $2.2 billion, ranking him 147th on its list of the 400 wealthiest Americans.

(Reporting by Ellis Mnyandu in New York, additional reporting by Jessica Hall in Philadelphia; Editing by James Dalgleish and Gerald E. McCormick)