He spent years studying their ways, enduring the slings and arrows* and a series of embarrassing defeats, learning the whole time, honing his skills, preparing for the big day when it would all finally come together. Alas, Goldman activism-defense chief William Anderson’s slow play came much, much too slow for Sotheby’s and those 12 now-former Darden Restaurants director. But he put it together in time to save DuPont’s board from having to listen to Nelson Peltz drone on about splitting the company into tiny pieces, and it feels pretty, pretty good.
Mr. Anderson studied previous campaigns to learn the tendencies of activists, and he got to know them. He compiled detailed dossiers on the leading activist investors, such as Mr. Icahn and William Ackman, centralizing information that could be used by fellow Goldman bankers….
Mr. Peltz campaigned for a board seat and while some investors questioned the danger of adding a single director from Trian, the Goldman bankers helped to argue the case that as a director, Mr. Peltz would be overly focused on a breakup to the detriment of the company.
* This one’s particularly good: “If you want to lose, hire Goldman Sachs.”