Goldman Sachs hires competitors to grow mid-market deals

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By Anirban Sen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs told Reuters it has hired two investment bankers from rival banks as part of an initiative to advise on more smaller deals worth up to $2 billion.

The Wall Street investment bank has hired Kerry Burke from Evercore and Eddie Rubin from Lazard (NYSE:). Burke, who focused on the retail and apparel sectors at Evercore, will join Goldman in August, and Rubin, who advises on deals in the digital infrastructure industry, joined the bank in April.

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Goldman, best known for its mega-deal advisory work, has in recent years been working to expand the scope of so-called middle-market deals to grow and diversify its revenues.

Goldman created a unit called the cross market group (CMG) in 2019 and put veteran banker David Friedland in charge of it as the bank sought to enhance its share of advisory fees on smaller acquisitions.

“Our people who deal in the middle market are excited about the entrepreneurial side of business – they deal with family offices, founder-led companies, sponsor portfolio companies and companies that are growing rapidly. This is all a very attractive business for GS,” said Friedland, a partner at Goldman.

During his 26 years at Goldman, Friedland held a variety of positions and spent most of his career advising leading clients in the consumer and retail industries. Notable transactions on which Friedland has advised include Brookfield Property’s acquisition of shopping center operator GGP and Sands of Las Vegas (NYSE:)” Sale of its Vegas properties, including the Venice casino, worth $6.3 billion.

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The CMG unit, which currently has 200 employees, focuses on seven industries – consumer and retail, real estate, financial institutions, technology media and telecommunications, industrials, healthcare and natural resources. Goldman has appointed 10 investment bankers to focus on five of these sectors, while another banker, Todd Byers, was recently tasked with leading private equity deals.

Over the past few years, leading boutique investment banks including Evercore, Centerview Partners and PJT Partners (NYSE:) have embarked on an aggressive hiring spree of top brokers, looking to capture a larger share of advising on the mega deals that generate huge payouts for advisors.

This strategy has given Wall Street powerhouses such as Goldman, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:) greater ability to collect fees on mid-market trades that are funneled through boutique advisory firms and other top rivals.

Moreover, the slowdown in transaction execution combined with a more tough regulatory environment has forced leading banks to look for up-to-date opportunities to generate fees.

Friedland pointed out that having mighty knowledge of the balance sheet and capital markets also gives gigantic banks an advantage in deals over boutique advisory firms that focus solely on M&A advising.

According to Dealogic data, the number of M&A deals valued between $500 million and $2 billion increased 19% this year in the Americas and EMEA, to 206. Goldman advised on 39 of those deals this year, an enhance of 44 % compared to the same period last year.

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