Star stock analyst Mahaney to lead Internet coverage at RBC

SAN FRANCISCO Mon Jan 7, 2013 2:33pm EST

SAN FRANCISCO Jan 7 (Reuters) - Mark Mahaney, a top-rated Internet stock analyst who was fired from Citigroup in October after one of his staffers improperly shared research with a news website, has been hired by RBC Capital Markets.

Mahaney will oversee coverage of the Internet sector for RBC, the firm announced on Monday. RBC did not state which companies Mahaney will cover. He will be based in San Francisco.

Rated the top Internet analyst for the past five consecutive years by Institutional Investor, Mahaney is among the most well-known and respected analysts covering the online industry.

His research notes of companies including Google Inc , Amazon.com Inc and Facebook Inc, were considered must-reads among many investors, who praised his stock picks and his perspective on the fast-moving Web business.

One such report, which was being prepared ahead of the high-profile initial public offering of Facebook last year, led to Mahaney's exit from Citigroup, although Mahaney was only indirectly involved in the incident.

Mahaney failed to supervise a junior analyst who improperly shared Facebook research with the TechCrunch news website, according to a settlement that Citigroup struck with Massachusetts regulators in October.

Citigroup paid a $2 million fine to Massachusetts regulators to settle charges that the bank improperly disclosed research on Facebook ahead of its $16 billion IPO earlier in May. Last year, Reuters reported that Facebook had pre-briefed analysts for its underwriters ahead of its IPO, advising them to reduce their profit and revenue forecasts.

The settlement agreement also outlined an incident in which Mahaney failed to get approval before responding to a journalist's questions about Google - and told a Citigroup compliance staffer that the conversation had not occurred - even after being warned about unauthorized conversations with the media.

RBC said in a statement that Mahaney is "a well-known asset in the investing community and is widely-regarded as one of the most influential research analysts covering the Internet, as confirmed by our extensive due diligence." The firm declined to comment further.