Trump’s Top Pick For SEC Chair Is Wall Street Lawyer

President-elect Donald Trump waves to supporters during a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

President-elect Donald Trump waves to supporters during a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

(REPORT) — Donald Trump is preparing to appoint another Wall Street proxy to the top Wall Street regulation, supervision and enforcement post.

According to the WSJ, Wall Street M&A and IPO lawyer, Jay Clayton, is Trump’s leading candidate to become chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and could be announced as the nominee as soon as Wednesday.

Clayton, who met with Mr. Trump on Dec. 22, is a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, where he also worked on the 2014 IPO of Alibaba Group. His clients have included Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital; he would succeed SEC Chairman Mary Jo White, another lawyer with a history of representing Wall Street banks before becoming a regulator. Clayton has spent his career working on the kinds of securities deals that the SEC has a hand in regulating.

Among his various listed deals are the following:

  • Ally Financial Inc. in the $4.2 billion sale of its operations in Europe and Latin America to General Motors (GM), as well as in the $4.1 billion sale of its Canadian auto finance business to the Royal Bank of
  • Barclays Capital in connection with its purchase of assets of Lehman Brothers out of bankruptcy
  • Goldman Sachs in connection with the investment of $5 billion by Berkshire Hathaway and the U.S. Treasury’s TARP Investment
  • Bear Stearns in connection with the sale of Bear Stearns to JPMorgan Chase and related matters
  • Goldman Sachs and affiliated funds in connection with various acquisitions and investments in companies involved in financial services, banking, telecom and other industries
  • Initial public offering of $25 billion by Alibaba Group Holding Limited
  • Initial public offering of $190 million by Moelis & Company
  • Initial public offering of $2.375 billion by Ally Financial and private placements of $3 billion and $1.3 billion of common stock in Ally Financial
  • Initial public offering of $230 million by Blackhawk Network Holdings
  • Initial public offering and multiple public and private offerings of equity, preferred and debt securities of Capital Product Partners L.P.
  • Initial public offering of $380 million by Oaktree Capital Group

As noted in the list above, Clayton represented Goldman when it received a $5 billion investment from billionaire Warren Buffett’s company during the peak of the credit crisis in September 2008. He’s also represented Goldman in connection with other investments and acquisitions, according to the law firm. Sullivan is a key outside legal adviser for Goldman and is more closely associated with Wall Street than perhaps any other law firm.

Clayton has a wide-ranging corporate practice spanning mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, corporate governance, and investment advice for high-net-worth families. Other matters that Mr. Clayton has worked on include advising Morgan Stanley on the sale of its physical oil-trading division and Bear Stearns on its sale to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.—two deals shaped heavily by the financial crisis and its aftermath—and the 2014 IPO of Moelis & Co., a boutique advisory firm. He’s also represented an ownership group for the Atlanta Hawks and British Airways in its 2010 merger with Iberia.

Clayton would become the latest Trump appointee with longstanding Wall Street ties, joining former Goldman executive Steven Mnuchin, Mr. Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary; former Goldman President Gary Cohn, who will run the National Economic Council; and private-equity investor Wilbur Ross, the pick to head the Commerce Department.

As the WSJ notes, Clayton would take over the SEC at a time when congressional Republicans are pressuring the agency to loosen fundraising rules for smaller public companies, lighten its oversight of private-equity firms, and repeal executive-compensation rules opposed by corporations. He would be one of at least three new members to join the SEC this year. The agency has two unfilled commissioner posts in addition to the chairman’s role, which Ms. White will give up on Jan. 20.


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