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SOME SEE INVESTMENT bankers as fair arbiters of value in mergers and acquisitions. Others see them as biased parties with a stake in striking the best deal for management and themselves.
Those strikingly different views were offered at a panel discussion in November sponsored by the Institute for Law and Economics (ILE).
Charles M. Elson, the Edgar S. Woolward, Jr. Professor of Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, said the prospect of big fees and repeat business can undermine investment bankers’ ability to determine good value. “The bankers’ job is to promote the transaction,” he told students taking a class in corporate finance.
Robert Spatt, a partner at New York-based Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, holds the opposite view. “I happen to be a huge believer that the banker plays a huge role and brings value,” countered Spatt, who counsels boards to strike fair deals for stockholders.
Joining Elson and Spatt on the panel were Stuart M. Grant of Grant & Eisenhofer, P.A. and Robert A. Kindler, an investment banker with J.P. Morgan Securities, Inc. Michael L. Wachter, William B. Johnson Professor of Law and Economics and ILE Co-Director, and Leo E. Strine, Jr. L’88, Vice Chancellor of the Chancery Court of Delaware, organized the program, and Strine served as moderator.
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