Twitter CFO Noto Follows Goldman Sachs Alumni Moving to C-Suites

Jul 02, 2014 12:00 am ET

July 2 (Bloomberg) -- Anthony Noto, newly appointed as Twitter Inc.’s finance chief, is following in the footsteps of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. alumni who became top executives elsewhere, strengthening the bank’s ties and influence.

Their ranks include chief financial officers at GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Occidental Petroleum Corp., Square Inc. and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. John Thain, one of the bank’s most senior leaders, left a decade ago to run the New York Stock Exchange. Former equities co-head Duncan Niederauer is now co-president of Intercontinental Exchange Inc.

“Goldman probably does a better job than many of the others of helping people transition into powerful positions,” said Gary Goldstein, head of search firm Whitney Partners LLC. “The more Goldman alumni who are out there in critical decision-making roles, in a variety of industries, the more likelihood of Goldman continuing to work with them.”

Twitter looked to Noto, 46, after he led its initial public offering in November as co-head of Goldman Sachs’s technology, media and telecom banking group. He left the New York-based bank in May. The West Point football player had joined Goldman Sachs after serving in the Middle East and later worked as CFO at the National Football League, before returning to the bank in 2010.

At Twitter, he replaces CFO Mike Gupta, who’s becoming senior vice president of strategic investments.

Handling Deals

Goldman Sachs was the top-ranked adviser on mergers and acquisitions each of the last four years, and generated $2 billion from advisory work in 2013, 50 percent more than its closest competitor. It was the top global equity underwriter in two of the past three years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Adrian Perica, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker, joined Apple Inc. in 2009. As the technology firm’s top dealmaker, Perica has upped the pace of acquisitions, culminating in this year’s $3 billion agreement to buy Beats Electronics LLC, the headphone maker and music-streaming service. His team didn’t rely on a Wall Street adviser for that deal.

Goldman Sachs underwrote 64 percent of Apple’s $12 billion bond sale in April, a year after it handled 72 percent of the iPhone maker’s record $17 billion debt offering.

Last year, the bank helped lead a $3.23 billion bond offering and arrange more than $4 billion loans for Valeant’s acquisition of Bausch & Lomb Holdings Inc. Valeant CFO Howard Schiller is a former Goldman Sachs banker.

Goldman Sachs also advised on sales for EON SE, Germany’s biggest utility, during the tenure of CFO Marcus Schenck, a former banker who left EON last year to return to Goldman Sachs.

‘Not Bad’

Thain spent about 24 years at Goldman Sachs. After running the exchange, he became chief executive officer of investment banking rival Merrill Lynch & Co. in 2007, selling the firm to Bank of America Corp. in the financial crisis. He now runs lender CIT Group Inc.

Paul Achleitner was a dealmaker at Goldman Sachs in New York, London and Frankfurt, rising to co-lead its German unit in 1994. In 2000, he jumped to Munich-based Allianz SE, now Europe’s biggest insurer. As the finance chief of Allianz, he oversaw mergers and acquisitions and investments for 12 years before joining Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, where he’s chairman of the supervisory board.

“I don’t know that any bank encourages talent leaving, though it’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Jeff Harte, a Chicago-based analyst at Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP, said by phone. “They’ll be more inclined to, for lack of a better term, trade with who they know.”

‘Government Sachs’

Aflac Inc. and Lincoln National Corp. recruited chief investment officers from Goldman Sachs. Eric Kirsch was hired by Columbus, Georgia-based Aflac in 2011.

Goldman Sachs’s alumni network has long extended beyond the business world, inspiring the nickname “Government Sachs” because of senior executives who have moved into public posts.

Former Goldman Sachs leaders Henry Paulson and Robert Rubin served as U.S. Treasury secretaries after leaving the firm, and another, Jon Corzine, represented New Jersey in the U.S. Senate and as governor. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley are among company alumni now setting monetary policy.

‘Backdoor Bailout’

Goldman Sachs’s reach in the financial system and government drew scrutiny after the 2008 bailout of banks and insurer American International Group Inc. AIG’s first CEO after the rescue was Edward Liddy, who had been a director at Goldman Sachs. The federal assistance helped AIG pay billions of dollars to that bank and other firms to honor commitments on derivative contracts and was criticized by lawmakers as an additional “backdoor bailout” for Wall Street.

Stephen Friedman, then a director at Goldman Sachs and chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, bought shares in the bank in 2008 and early 2009 while the regulator was helping prop up AIG. He defended the dual roles at a 2010 congressional hearing when asked if there was a program for Goldman Sachs to encourage employees to take positions with financial watchdogs.

“What there has been over the years is a certain tradition that you work here, you try to do well for yourself and your family, and then you give back and you do public service,” Friedman said. “For many years this was regarded as a very constructive and positive thing.”

--With assistance from Michael J. Moore and Kelly Gilblom in New York.