One thing to start: The FT Business of Football Summit kicks off on Wednesday. Join some of the biggest names in the business for two days of discussion about dealmaking and investment, along with stars from the sport such as Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. Full details here.
One big trend in a chart: just over 10 per cent of all companies that went public in the US last year were profitable. More from Alphaville’s Jamie Powell here.
Welcome to Due Diligence, your briefing on dealmaking, private equity and corporate finance from the Financial Times. Want to receive DD in your inbox? Sign up here. Get in touch with us anytime:
Kevin Sneader was probably already having a long week when he received the call from S&P Global chief executive Doug Peterson earlier this year.
As global managing partner of McKinsey, he was busy steering the consultancy as it settled civil claims for $574m over its advice to Purdue Pharma on how to boost sales of OxyContin, the drug that helped lure the US into a devastating opioid crisis.
For Sneader, resolving the Purdue litigation signified a new chapter. After spending much of the time since his 2018 appointment navigating reputational crises from Saudi Arabia to South Africa to Russia, he vowed to be more selective about how the firm selects its next generation of clients.
But it wasn’t time to breathe a sigh of relief just yet.
Peterson was calling to follow up on an inquiry by lawyers for the S&P-owned Coalition, the dominant provider of global investment banking research, into suspicions that certain former Coalition staff who had moved to McKinsey took some confidential information along with them, insiders told the Financial Times.
DD readers might recall earlier this month when the FT revealed that McKinsey had fired and suspended several employees over unexplained policy violations in its investment banking research team and closed the unit pending a review of “various personnel matters”.
Well, the mystery appears to have been solved — McKinsey alleged in a letter to clients last week that several members of the CIB Insights team inappropriately took information from Coalition when they made the switch.
The letter also suggested that some of the individuals under suspicion made inappropriate efforts to poach their former colleagues, alleging that they had unauthorised communications with Coalition employees about the possibility of working for McKinsey.
With CIB Insights on pause for the unforeseeable future, it’s unlikely those hiring efforts will ever see the light of day.
According to this FT opinion piece by management guru Tom Peters, a McKinsey alum, the firm’s woes can be traced to its insatiable appetite for market share and profitability, a “poisonous combination” in high doses.
Want to discuss the firm further? Get in touch with our US business editor Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson.
Marc Rowan never seemed to be gunning for the top job at Apollo Global Management.
As recently as July, the group’s co-founder began an open-ended “semi-sabbatical” from Apollo’s insurance business — a move he has since said was “a very bad idea” in the middle of a pandemic.
But the announcement that Leon Black will depart as chief executive, after the law firm Dechert found he had paid $158m to the late paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, has brought Rowan to the fore. (Black, cleared by Dechert of involvement in Epstein’s criminal activities, will stay on as chairman.)
Apollo insiders had widely seen Josh Harris, a fellow co-founder whom Black has praised for building a better-run, more modern Apollo, as the frontrunner to take over. But some inside the company say Harris may have irritated Black by seeming to covet the job too openly, DD’s Mark Vandevelde and Sujeet Indap report.
Harris had urged Black to step aside as chairman and chief executive at a board meeting in late January, according to people with knowledge of the conversation.
Rowan, an accomplished financial engineer, might be Apollo’s brightest mind. Its Athene insurance company — built to profit from the disruption of the 2008 crisis — was Rowan’s brainchild, Black has said.
Black and Harris have become recognisable figures beyond the realm of finance — Black for his flamboyant art purchases, and Harris as proprietor of the Philadelphia 76ers and other sports teams. But Rowan has been less keen to step on to the public stage.
The billionaire’s personal investments include property in Manhattan’s Tribeca district and Long Island restaurants. He also once owned a stake in the Beats headphone brand. He has sometimes lent financial weight to particular points of view: last September he donated $248,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, for example.
In one sense, his return is well-timed. A man who once said investing during a boom was “somewhat boring” is tasked with steering Apollo through chaotic financial markets and finding opportunity in disorder.
As Spacs line up to bring a host of unproven companies to public markets, private equity groups are preparing to take a bunch of longer-established businesses in the opposite direction.
In the UK, pub chain Marston’s, private jet services group Signature Aviation and power supplier Aggreko are among the listed companies that buyout groups have targeted for potential take-privates since the beginning of the year.
With London’s stock markets more sluggish than New York’s, and its thresholds for shareholder approval of takeovers lower than in much of Europe, private equity is seizing the day. Part of the rationale is that in a country battered by the pandemic and the uncertainties around Brexit, the only way is up.
“There is an expectation that, like in most past crises, the UK underperforms in bad times and overperforms in good times,” Lionel Assant, European head of private equity at Blackstone, told DD’s Kaye Wiggins.
“This is the moment for private equity to play the role they should play, which is, inject capital at attractive returns when the time is right.”
Will the boards of listed companies agree? Some will be drawn to the chance to restructure post-Covid outside the glare of the public markets, argues Saba Nazar, global co-head of financial sponsors at Bank of America.
Not everyone sees things that way. Platinum Equity, founded by Tom Gores, has now walked away from Marston’s after it rejected three separate approaches.
Silicon Valley battle royale Bad blood between Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook is threatening to reach a boiling point as they fire increasingly precarious shots at each other’s tech empires. (WSJ)
Bank of Bezos The world’s most prodigious philanthropists (think Rockefeller, Carnegie and Gates) began doling out their fortunes after stepping back from their businesses. Jeff Bezos is expected to follow suit — but his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott’s record $6bn charitable spree could change the status quo. (Bloomberg)
A tale of two arrests The reeling-in of Jack Ma’s fintech empire was a clear sign of the Communist party’s tightening grip on business. But the dual plights of Chinese entrepreneur Sun Dawu, jailed in 2003 and 2020 to different results, show just how much it has changed. (NYT)
Riskiest borrowers make up biggest share of junk bond deals since 2007 (FT)
Arnault and Mustier join the $100bn Spac boom (FT + Lex)
Vivendi to spin out Universal Music Group (FT)
Apple approached Nissan to work on autonomous car project (FT)
Russian discount retailer aims to raise $1bn in London IPO (FT)
Norway’s $1.3tn oil fund calls for greater gender equality (FT)
Jaguar Land Rover lays out electric plans in radical overhaul (FT)
Coke bottlers: bubble economy (Lex)
Owl Rock-Dyal blockbuster merger stirs backlash by Sixth Street (BBG)