Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s co-head of global mergers and acquisitions, Yoel Zaoui, is stepping down, in the latest high-level exit at the Wall Street firm.
Goldman disclosed the departure of Zaoui in an internal memo Tuesday. The London-based banker, who is 51 years old, has been with Goldman for nearly 25 years. He will remain a senior director of the firm, the memo said.
According to a person familiar with the matter, Mr. Zaoui, a Moroccan-born French national, hasn't decided what he will do next, although he plans to keep working in the same field.
His co-head, Gene Sykes, is expected to assume the title of sole global head of M&A at Goldman.
Zaoui (pronounced ZOW-ee) played a key role in building up Goldman's European franchise starting in the 1980s. He joined Goldman in 1988 as an associate in its M&A department in New York and became co-head of European M&A 11 years later. He later was named head of European investment banking before assuming his current role last year.
In 2008, Zaoui was named to Goldman's management committee, the panel that runs the firm and currently has 29 members. He was the first European banker to join that group.
During Zaoui's career at the firm, Goldman established itself as the top player in the rarefied world of merger advisory. The business has taken on increased importance since the financial crisis, which spawned new regulations that will make it more difficult for firms like Goldman to make money in other businesses, most notably trading for its own account.
The departure of Zaoui, one of the best-known bankers in the City of London, follows the exit of a number of other senior deal makers from Goldman this year, including industrials banker George Mattson and Luca Ferrari, who ran M&A for Northern Europe out of London.
A number of factors are behind the departures. Most investment bankers receive their bonuses around now, which typically triggers a wave of retirements and defections to rivals. An especially large number of high-profile banker moves have taken place lately, including the defection of Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Andrea Orcel to UBS AG, where he will be co-head of investment banking.
The recent volatility in financial markets has hit securities firms around the world hard, causing them to pare back pay and staffing levels.
The exit of senior rainmakers also creates room for up-and-coming talent, and the M&A group is one which Goldman is particularly keen to continue replenishing. The bank will name a new set of partners—one of Wall Street and the City's most coveted roles—at the end of this year.
Zaoui has worked on some of the landmark deals of the last decade, including those that created drug and steel giants Sanofi SA MT -4.83%and ArcelorMittal SA, SNY -2.23%respectively.
This story first appeared on WSJ.com.
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