By Svea Herbst-Bayliss
BOSTON (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs ranked as the top financial adviser to companies targeted by activist investors in 2020, holding onto the top ranking for the second straight year, according to Refinitiv data published on Monday.
During 2020, Goldman advised on 49 campaigns, including Twitter, EBay and Harley Davidson , down modestly from 53 in 2019.
The top 10 advisers worked on 186 campaigns last year, when the pandemic curbed activism, compared with 197 in 2019.
Morgan Stanley, which held the No. 1 spot for several years, slipped to the No. 3 position, having worked on 26 campaigns in 2020 after 44 campaigns in 2019.
Spotlight Advisors, which works for both companies and activists, moved into the No. 2 spot with 31 campaigns.
Bank of America, Lazard and Evercore followed with 22, 17 and 14 engagements respectively.
Various providers compile league tables that are often used as data points to woo new clients. But they seldom tell the entire story, bankers say, noting that discrepancies can arise because many companies fend off activists privately and ask their advisers to stay silent about their involvement.
Elliott Management held onto its spot as the busiest activist, having launched 17 campaigns last year after 11 in 2019.
Olshan Frome Wolosky was the busiest law firm, working on 85 engagements for activists. Vinson & Elkins LLP, which handled 47 campaigns, including six for activists and 41 for companies, followed in the No. 2 spot. Sidley Austin LLP tied V&E with 41 company engagements and ranked in the No. 3 spot.
Innisfree and Okapi Partners were the top proxy solicitors.
(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Dan Grebler)