The changing of the guard at Goldman Sachs

David Hellier
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A changing of the guard at Goldman’s UK investment banking division is always closely watched and so it is that there is much discussion about the two thirtysomethings that have been put in charge of UK investment banking.

The recent departure of Julian Metherell, the former head, who is going to start an investment firm with former BP chief executive Tony Hayward, caused something of a stir, since it was not expected outside of the firm.

Now Goldman has decided to replace Metherell, an oil and gas banker, with Mark Sorrell and Anthony Gutman, in a joint role.

Gutman’s appointment is especially noteworthy since he has been at the firm for only four years, having been at Citigroup where he was junior to the likes of David Wormsley.

“It’s very unusual for a lateral hire to be promoted at the firm so early on,” said one banker yesterday.

Gutman is a well known leisure specialist who has acted on, among other things, the flotation of Betfair. More recently he was appointed as joint adviser, along with BoA Merrill Lynch’s Simon Mackenzie-Smith, to National Express, which was skirmishing with one of its dissident shareholders Elliott Partners.

Some say that Gutman, who is not yet a partner, was given the joint role as a way of keeping him at the firm at a time when the likes of BoA Merrill Lynch would love to hire him, possibly as a future leader. Others say that his UK-oriented contacts base make a good balance to Sorrell’s more international experience.

Sorrell, son of WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell, was made a partner last year and few have doubted that he would be going places.

In their new role Gutman and Sorrell will be supported by experienced bankers such as Karen Cook and Matthew Westerman. As the recent league tables showed last week, Goldman has the leading position in global mergers & acquisitions. In the UK, its presence is tremendously strong too and it ranks top in Bloomberg’s latest M&A?table.

It acted for Cadbury in the bid of the year in 2010 and has in the past few days secured the sale of Jimmy Choo shoes on behalf of Towerbrook.

But it faces stiff competition from a renascent BoA Merrill Lynch, a high-spending Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and an ever-strong JP Morgan.

Goldman will be hoping that two heads are better than one as it tackles the competition head on.