Is Activism Defense a top Goldman Group?

targus11's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 8

Saw this listing and have never heard of the group. I've heard about FIG/TMT/HC but not sure about this one. It's called "Activism Defense." Did some research and apparently they're advising Ebay against Icahn and have represented other big companies like Hess, Apple, and Microsoft.

It'd be great to know:
A) How would this look for Exit opps/Career growth?
B) Does anyone have any insights/details about the group?

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Job Summary & Responsibilities

The Activism Defense team is looking for an Analyst to join the team.

The Activism Defense team, which is a part of the M&A Group in the Investment Banking Division, works alongside teams throughout the Division globally to advise corporate clients with respect to their current or potential vulnerabilities to shareholder activism and hostile activity.
In this role, the banker will be required to provide advice and assistance to internal teams and external clients regarding preparing for and responding to hostile activity, shareholder activism, corporate governance and shareholder related issues. The banker will help to create presentations for clients and internal teams on these and other topics and also will work on live raid defense and proxy fight defense situations and help drive marketing and targeting initiatives.

The ideal candidate for this role will be highly motivated, with excellent interpersonal and communication skills. They should be comfortable working within a team environment as well as able to work independently. In addition, they should be comfortable working on a broad variety of projects at any given time and have a keen eye towards attention to detail.

Comments (28)

Apr 8, 2014

The job involve exactly is what it just describes 'advise corporate clients with respect to their current or potential vulnerabilities to shareholder activism and hostile activity.' My understanding of this group when I am at GS is that it involves a lot more qualitative skills rather than quantitative skills, definitely much less Excel/modelling than financing groups, dealing with many legal matters. However I didnt work here so cant speak from exp.

Apr 9, 2014

Do you know how much modeling by any chance? Trying to see where DCF/comps would factor into daily work (don't think it would that much beyond maybe modeling the value of a suggested sell-off by an activist to show if its worth it or doing a merger model etc)

Apr 8, 2014

As @bobbielover said, modeling will be done by specialists/industry group. So your role is purely strategic, i believe you need to know the legal organisational matters of company inside out. Very client-facing and more like consulting role, and usually when such event happens it's one-off, not regular i.e. case-by-case basis and big in size.

Apr 8, 2014

Don't know about prestige/exit-opps but it sounds like a pretty fascinating group from a purely intellectual perspective.

"My dear, descended from the apes! Let us hope it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known."

Apr 9, 2014

From an outside perspective, I wouldn't think there was a lot of "typical" modeling done in the group. I could see it being a gig where you basically consult the client with the differnt options that are available, maybe draw up scenarios of what would happen if they were to take a certain defense. Like someone mentioned, they'd probably need to be quite knowledgeable on the legal ramifications of certain actions, as well.

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Apr 9, 2014

You will do zero modeling -- all of the modeling will be done by whichever group you're assisting. (i.e. TMT, HC, etc).

dollas

Apr 10, 2014

It sounds like a more specialized M&A group... But much more focused on the legal side.

It does sound interesting. In terms of is it a top group: if you have to ask.

It could maybe possibly be a good background for an activist HF, but it sounds like you may lack the typical model rigor that an activist fund would value much more than the stuff I described above.

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Apr 10, 2014

I think most BBs handle activism defense out of the relevant industry group rather than through a specialized group like GS, so I don't think you'll be able to find much direct info. It does sound like an interesting job though, but not super relevant to buyside recruiting.

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Apr 10, 2014

Actually, looking at the posted requirements, they want you to have 3+ years of IBD experience coming in. I'd assume you would have the modeling chops to do well at an activist hedge fund at that point and that seems like it might be a very real exit opportunity. I have no direct experience of course, but that's what I would expect.

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Apr 10, 2014

The technical aspects of activism are pretty learnable.

HFs don't value technical know-how as much as they do intellectual horsepower, intuitive thinking and investment acumen. Things like strong fundamental corporate finance and financial modeling skills are a prereq (because these require more hand holding if the candidate starts from scratch)... but all the other stuff is expected to be learned on the job. You're not going to have a meaningful leg up by understanding the implications of a staggered board and various poison pills derivations.

Apr 10, 2014

I'm actually pretty familiar with the group. It's a lean (only 3 or fewer associates I believe) and its not a ton of modelling because for most assignments you'll be paired up with the coverage group. It's much heavier on the legalese aspect (e.g. checking the bylaws/articles to calculate out the exact days that an activist can submit their director slate in accordance with the advance notice provisions) or analyzing the proxy advisers (ISS/GL) to determine which way they'll recommend. Most other banks just couch this group within the M&A team but GS is the leader in activism defense so i guess it warrants having a separate stand alone team. Definitely a different experience than normal IBD analyst/associate roles but it is still GS IBD. It's a very strong group.

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Apr 9, 2014

Ok thank you for the info. I'm unsure if I want to stay in banking long-term so want to have a hedge in case I got the associate position. So would you say PE is not an option (since little modeling exp) but maybe an activist hedge fund or one of the proxy advisers?

Apr 10, 2014

If the group's work is mired in legalese, what do they offer that Watchell or Skadden can't?

Apr 10, 2014

It's Wachtell. (Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz)

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Apr 10, 2014

Who cares.

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Apr 10, 2014

Well for one, its a different profession. Minor point.

Apr 10, 2014

Last time I checked, any M&A lawyer can do those things mba2014 outlined, i.e. checking the bylaws/articles and analyzing proxy advisers.

Apr 12, 2014

Curious about exit ops on the buy side. Reason I ask is that there is an inherent adversarial relationship.

Apr 12, 2014

.

Apr 12, 2014

Seems like it would be an extremely interesting job...that would be a great position for a few years if only just to learn as much as possible. Intersection of law and finance has always been interesting to me.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

Apr 12, 2014

not remotely my area of expertise but this sounds like fun

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Apr 12, 2014

I "work" with these guys almost every day. I'll preface by saying my opinion is somewhat biased but that doesn't stop it from being right.

These groups are mainly for show so the bank can keep the business of the companies involved if/when they happen to do a defensive transaction. These guys are designed to steer the company towards some sort of (typically destructive) fee-generating activity with the other parts of the bank and don't do a lot of actual strategic consulting the way you think McKinsey does it. Your job will be much more less model-intensive and you'll be taking most of your orders from the MDs in each respective industry group. As far as exit opportunities go, it's an interesting position and I'm sure some activist funds might be interested in at least speaking with you, but you're seeing a lot more of these types of bankers now than ever before so it's hard to gauge what the sentiment towards them has become now that everyone has one of these groups. It's a mindless job, even relative to typical banking, but it's "new" enough for people to not really know what they do yet.

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Best Response
Apr 15, 2014

Whatever the kind of work is, it sounds sexy as hell.
I would do it just for the opportunity to tell a client "WE ARE CANCELLING THE APOCALYPSE"

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Apr 10, 2014

The best defense is a good offense ? We've seen the resurgence of the Pac-Man lately.

Apr 15, 2014

Would assume that most GS IBD coverage groups would be stronger in both experience and exits.

Dec 24, 2014

@OP - Did you apply/take the position? Anymore insights into the position?

Mar 20, 2015
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