Goldman Dealmaker Zaoui Retires From Firm After 24 Years

Yoel Zaoui, named co-head of global mergers and acquisitions at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. less than a year ago, is leaving after 24 years at the bank, the eighth management committee member to depart in 12 months.

Zaoui, a 51-year-old French citizen, will continue to advise the firm as a senior director, according to an internal memorandum obtained by Bloomberg. The London-based banker, who joined in 1988, got his current post alongside Gene T. Sykes, 54, in May, according to the memo from Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein and President Gary D. Cohn. Jo Carss, a spokeswoman in London, confirmed the contents of the memo.

Goldman Sachs, the fifth-biggest U.S. based bank by assets, is the fourth-ranked adviser on takeovers announced globally so far this year after attaining the No. 1 position in 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Fees for takeover advice and other financial advisory assignments fell 4 percent last year and contributed 6.9 percent of the firm’s revenue, according to the company’s results published in January.

Zaoui is credited with helping to “establish the firm’s leadership position across many markets and leading some of the region’s most important merger transactions,” according to the memo. “Yoel has built strong relationships with many of our significant clients and has helped to recruit, mentor and develop many of our senior banking professionals.”

Zaoui and his older brother Michael, who ran European M&A at Morgan Stanley before retiring in 2008 after a 21-year career at the firm, became renowned in the late 1990s for their rivalry on some of the biggest takeover battles. Among them were TotalFina SA’s $58 billion purchase of Elf Aquitaine SA and Vodafone AirTouch Plc’s $137 billion hostile bid for Germany’s Mannesmann AG in 1999.

Zaoui’s Deals

Zaoui also advised on deals including the 2004 merger that created French pharmaceuticals maker Sanofi and the 2006 combination of Arcelor and Mittal. He didn’t reply to an e-mail and phone message seeking comment.

Takeover advice was a bigger portion of revenue a decade ago, contributing 16 percent of Goldman Sachs’s top line in 2000 and 17 percent in 1999, according to company reports. Sales and trading, which generated 39 percent of 2000 revenue, swelled to 60 percent of 2011 revenue, according to company reports.

Born in Morocco, Zaoui grew up in Rome and Paris, where he was educated at HEC Paris and Universite Paris-Dauphine, and received a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business before joining Goldman Sachs in New York in 1988. He moved to London one year later, where he helped build the company’s European mergers-and-acquisitions practice under the leadership of John Thornton.

Moving Up

Zaoui was promoted to co-head of European mergers in 1999, the year that Goldman Sachs became Europe’s top adviser on hostile takeovers, and in 2006 was promoted to run all of European investment banking. In February 2008 he was among nine Goldman Sachs executives named to the management committee. Five of those partners including Zaoui are among eight committee members who have left in the last 12 months.

Richard M. Ruzika, who joined in 1982, left the bank last April and was followed later in the year by Yusuf A. Alireza, Edward C. Forst and Kevin W. Kennedy. Edward K. Eisler, David B. Heller and Donald R. Mullen Jr.’s departures were all announced earlier this year.

Excluding Zaoui, the management committee currently has 28 members.

The departures of Goldman Sachs bankers Luca Ferrari, who advised Xstrata Plc on its proposed merger with Glencore International Plc, and New York-based partners George Mattson and Jeffrey Moslow were announced in February.

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