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Opinion

The Blackstone and Taubman affair

Perhaps the most interesting story of the month was the news that Paul Taubman was selling his recently formed corporate finance firm, PJT Partners, to Blackstone, and that Blackstone would spin off its entire advisory arm in to a standalone entity. Ostensibly this is a good thing as Blackstone, which manages over $200 billion of assets in private equity and real estate, is often accused by advisory clients of having conflicts of interest. The new advisory entity will still be 65% owned by Blackstone, so I’m not convinced this new structure answers the conflict of interest criticism. But perhaps I’m missing something.

Taubman, a former Morgan Stanley employee, rose to the dizzy heights of co-president of institutional securities at the investment bank. However, he and the other co-president, Colm Kelleher, didn’t work well together. Chief executive James Gorman was eventually forced to choose one man to lead the division. In November 2012, he plumped for Kelleher.

Taubman looked like the loser, but might yet turn out to be the real winner. In 2013, Taubman ranked as number 11 in the global M&A league table because of two large deals that his ‘kiosk’ advised upon (Verizon/Vodafone and Comcast/Time Warner).

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