President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday chose Wall Street attorney Jay Clayton as his nominee to be the next chairman of the nation's securities agency.
If confirmed on Capitol Hill, the Securities and Exchange Commission would be led by a seasoned M&A attorney with experience providing legal advice around a wide variety of blockbuster mergers, including critical deals that were struck during the 2008 financial crisis that helped alleviate a more extensive market meltdown.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published by The Deal, a sister publication of TheStreet that offers sophisticated insight and analysis on all types of deals, from inception to integration. Click here for a free trial.
Trump said Clayton is a "highly talented" expert on many aspects of financial and regulatory law and will ensure our financial institutions can "thrive and create jobs."
The choice of Clayton, 51, represents a major departure from another name that until recently was floated as a potential candidate to head the SEC -- Debra Wong Yang. Yang would have brought prosecutorial and managerial expertise to the agency as she was U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California between 2002 and 2006.
"I think a lot of people would think that it would be a lot more preferable to bring in someone like Clayton, who has practiced securities law for so many years, to the SEC than someone who has been a prosecutor for a large part of their career," said Keith Gottfried, partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Washington.
Clayton has spent the past 22 years as an attorney at Sullivan & Cromwell, according to relationship mapping service BoardEx, a service of TheStreet.
During his career at Sullivan & Cromwell, Clayton provided legal advice for a number of well-known deals and initial public offerings. He advised on IPOs such as the $25 billion 2014 Alibaba Group (BABA) offering, Och-Ziff Capital Management's (OZM) $1.2 billion IPO and $1.5 billion in Ambac Financial Group (AMBC) securities offerings, according to his bio on Sullivan & Cromwell's website. In addition, he advised on deals such as Ally Financial's (ALLY) sale of over $8 billion in assets, and Castleton Commodities in its acquisition of Morgan Stanley's (MS) oil trading and storage business, in a deal that followed one that unraveled in 2014 when the mega-bank was unable to sell its oil trading business to OAO Rosneft amid tensions between the U.S. and Russian governments.
Gottfried noted that Clayton has more expertise than Wong in the details of SEC's rules around raising capital and understanding what it takes to conduct blockbuster mergers. "If you have been a public company lawyer your whole career you have good insight into the SEC capital raising process," Gottfried said.