Cole Said to Approach Ex-Goldman Colleagues to Start Venture

  • Dealmaker’s firm is registered as Ardea Partners in New Jersey
  • Cole was former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs investment bank

Chris Cole, the former co-chairman of investment banking at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has begun a new venture to advise companies on mergers and acquisitions, according to people familiar with his plan.

Cole, 57, has approached former Goldman Sachs colleagues to work with his firm, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing his private plans. The business, which is registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority as Ardea Partners and based in Princeton, New Jersey, may also invest alongside clients, in a private-equity-like manner, the people said. Also named as an executive officer on the Finra listing is Ivan Ross, formerly of Goldman Sachs.

Cole was known for deals among financial institutions, advising clients including American International Group Inc. and MetLife Inc. He spent 30 years at the New York-based bank and retired in late 2015, after his investment banking co-chairmen Gordon Dyal and Alex Dibelius departed earlier in the year. Cole and Ross declined to comment Tuesday.

Financial Upside

“Entrepreneurially minded people are no longer satisfied at big firms,” Jeanne Branthover, an executive recruiter at DHR International, said by phone. By forming their own companies, “they’re going to have an opportunity to make an impact quicker, decisions are going to be made faster, and the upside financially can be much larger.”

Dyal began his own firm, named Dyalco, and went on to advise Syngenta AG on its agreement to sell to China National Chemical Corp. for more than $40 billion. Dibelius joined buyout firm CVC Capital Partners as a managing partner.

Boutique advisory firms have sought to highlight their independence and ability to invest along clients in some cases to distinguish themselves from giant rivals. Several dealmakers have left large Wall Street firms in recent years to start their own ventures.

Morgan Stanley veteran Paul J. Taubman took PJT Partners Inc. public last year. Byron Trott, a former Goldman Sachs dealmaker known for his work with billionaire Warren Buffett, started BDT Capital Partners after departing the bank. Trott’s firm has expanded with new hires, and has raised capital for investing funds.

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