Lazard Said To Recruit Suri For Activist Defense Role

Mar 24 2017 | 9:42pm ET

Financial advisory and management company Lazard has reportedly recruited former Dimensional Fund Advisors portfolio manager Sunil Suri to join its growing activist shareholder defense team.

Suri was part of a team at Dimensional that decided how the firm would vote the shares it held in portfolio companies at their annual meetings, according to a Reuters article citing unidentified individuals familiar with the move. The flip side of such teams are the activist defense committees at investment banks, which are tasked with helping craft the responses of public companies targeted by activist investors.  

Suri is the latest executive to join Lazard’s expanding activist defense team, following the November hire of Bank of America’s co-head of global equity capital markets, Mary Ann Deignan. At the time, Lazard also announced the addition of former Goldman Sachs Asset Management executive and merger arbitrage hedge fund M81 Capital founder Andrew Whittaker. The group is led by Jim Rossman, who is head of corporate preparedness at Lazard.

Activist campaigns have skyrocketed in the past five years as managers utilize relatively small equity stakes in high-profile public companies to push for often sweeping changes in strategy, changes in management and asset sales. Activists launched 429 campaigns against U.S. companies in 2016, according to Thomson Reuters data quoted in the Reuters article, nearly five times the number a decade ago.

Tracing its heritage to 1848, Lazard is one of the world’s oldest financial advisory and asset management firms. Through a range of subsidiaries, the firm provides advice on mergers and acquisitions, strategic matters, restructuring and capital structure, capital raising and corporate finance, as well as asset management services to corporations, partnerships, institutions, governments and individuals. 


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