Goldman Sachs' Gary Cohn Touts Bank's Record as M&A 'Adviser of Choice'

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Whether corporate takeovers are picking up or slowing down, one thing remains the same: It's good to be Goldman Sachs (GS).

While mergers and acquisitions slowed to 5.5% of global market capitalization last year from a 2000 high of 10.2%, the New York-based bank has consistently controlled 28% of the volume, President Gary Cohn said Tuesday at Deutsche Bank's Global Financial Services Investor Conference.

"Regardless of where we are in the cycle or which industry is active," Cohn told a crowd at the Pierre hotel in New York on the event's first day, "we are consistently the adviser of choice, having advised on 18 of the 20 largest M&A deals worldwide since our IPO."

The keynote speaker on Tuesday, Cohn discussed trends that affect Goldman clients specifically but also carry broader economic implications: the quest for growth, low interest rates, diverging monetary policy, and technology-driven change.

Goldman is also tracking trends such as consolidation of asset management businesses, the "new oil order," the demographic shift from baby boomers to millennials, and the growth of capital markets, Cohn said, without exploring the topics in detail.

While he expressed optimism about what the Fed raising rates would mean for clients -- namely making money market products more attractive and leading to greater activity levels, the bank has been cautious in its predictions of when that might happen, sticking to a September date.

In fact, the conditions for a rate hike may be more favorable in 2016, Goldman chief economist Jan Hatzius suggested in a note today.

To navigate through the tricky rate environment, Cohn spoke about growing opportunities in the bank's European high-yield debt underwriting. Between 2008 and 2014, volume in that business more than tripled.

Tied sharply to rates is the issue of diverging monetary policy -- specifically the U.S. discontinuing quantitative easing programs, in which governments purchase securities to bolster their economies, just as the European Central Bank begins using them. Volatility and revenue rose considerably in the first quarter as a result.

"The expectations of higher U.S. rates versus accommodative monetary policy in Europe drove a 25% increase in volatility and a corresponding increase in activity," Cohn said. "This drove a 1.8 times increase in revenue."

With respect to Goldman's focus on technology, Cohn highlighted the bank's new Marquee platform, which provides risk management and analytical tools to institutional clients.

 
Source: Goldman Sachs

 

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