February 10, 2020 / 12:02 PM / 17 days ago

MOVES-Moelis hires Herrington from Raymond James for activism defense

BOSTON, Feb 10(Reuters) - Investment bank Moelis & Co said it is hiring a veteran banker from Raymond James Financial Inc for its team that helps defend companies against activist shareholders.

Duncan Herrington, who was head of activism response and contested situations at Raymond James, is joining Moelis next month as a managing director in the bank’s New York office, a Moelis spokeswoman and executive said.

The move comes after corporations in 2019 faced new campaigns from a record number of shareholder activists.

Moelis is expanding its team again after having brought on two junior bankers, an executive from the world’s largest index manager, BlackRock, and a hedge fund executive, in December 2018.

Herrington, a lawyer who joined Raymond James in 2016, brings expertise in the field plus a strong reputation that will complement what Moelis has been building, managing director Craig Wadler said in an interview.

“Being prepared for an activist investor is a very important element of advice for our clients,” Wadler said, adding that the new hire “reinforces our commitment to working with corporates on pre-activist strategies including performance evaluation, capital allocation, and mergers and acquisitions potential.”

Herrington will bring the team’s size to four people with Wadler and Ted Moon working in Los Angeles and Herrington and Peter daSilva Vint working in New York.

Brand-name agitators including Elliott Management, Starboard Value and Third Point LLC have been nudging companies to perform better for years. Last year they were joined by more than three dozen newcomers who had never mounted a fight before. A total of 147 investors launched campaigns against companies, data from investment bank Lazard show.

A record number of these campaigns focused on mergers as investors pushed for companies to break themselves apart or put themselves up for sale, the Lazard data showed.

As demands from shareholders pick up, the need for companies to know more about how to engage with shareholders and how to position themselves in case an activist calls have also grown.

Most banks now offer these types of services to complement their other offerings. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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