Goldman Sachs Names Karen Cook Investment Banking Chairwoman in London

At a time when senior dealmakers are increasingly fleeing big banks for smaller advisory firms, Goldman Sachs is making sure that Karen Cook, its star mergers and acquisitions banker, is staying put.

The US bank has named Ms Cook, 61, chairman of its investment banking division, making the experienced rainmaker one of the most senior women at Goldman.

Ms Cook, who is based in London, has worked on numerous high-profile takeovers of UK-listed companies and built an enviable list of large-cap clients.

Recent deals include advising BG Group, the UK oil and gas company, on its £49bn sale to Royal Dutch Shell in April and the successful defence of UK pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca from a £69bn hostile offer by US drugmaker Pfizer last year.

Goldman has seen several top dealmakers either retire or quit the bank in recent weeks including Gordon Dyal, Alexander Dibelius, Jack Levy, William Anderson and veteran John Weinberg, whose father, also called John, and grandfather, Sidney, led the bank for decades.

Senior advisers are increasingly choosing to leave bulge brackets and taking their client relationships to smaller investment banks or starting their own advisory firms. Yoel Zaoui, a former co-head of global M&A at Goldman, for instance, has started a London-based advisory firm with his brother Michael, a former Morgan Stanley banker.

In an internal memo, Goldman’s three co-heads of investment banking said that Ms Cook would continue to focus on UK clients and help further develop its advisory business.

“She is a trusted adviser to many corporate leaders and has led numerous franchise-defining transactions, and this appointment reflects the contributions that Karen has made to the investment banking division,” the memo from Richard Gnodde, David Solomon and John Waldron said.

 The daughter of a car mechanic, Ms Cook worked at the Foreign Office before taking an MBA at the University of Manchester and entering banking.

She joined Goldman in 1999 along with a group of colleagues from Schroders after it was acquired by Citigroup. She became a partner in 2000 and has held the title of president of Goldman Sachs Europe for more than a decade.

Goldman remains the top advisory bank in the world, having worked on $687bn worth of deals in the first half of 2015, placing it well ahead of its nearest rival Morgan Stanley, according to Thomson Reuters.

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