Goldman charges give rivals new weapon

April 21, 2010

Shark tankIn the cut-throat world of investment banking, rivals are looking for ways to use the fraud charges against Goldman Sachs to chip away at the firm’s armor.

Investment bankers have been lobbying executives at state-owned Agricultural Bank of China and pushing officials in Beijing to drop Goldman as an underwriter for the more than $20 billion IPO the Chinese bank is preparing, sources told Reuters.

Rivals are also asking officials at state-controlled Bank of Communications to ditch Goldman from its joint global coordinator role in the $6.1 billion rights issue that China’s fifth-largest bank is planning for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

There is no indication that either AgBank or Bocom will push Goldman aside. In fact, AgBank on Tuesday asked the firm to take the lead in its planned roadshows to sell the IPO to investors, according to one source. Goldman declined to comment.

Industry veterans and even direct competitors wonder whether the SEC has overreached in its case against Goldman but in the shark tank that is investment banking, dealmakers smell blood.

One senior U.S.-based investment banker said attempts to show Goldman down when competing for business were not new.  And bankers are unlikely to pass on the opportunity now.

“People have been known to market against Goldman by saying things like: ‘Look you never really are a client of Goldman. The only client of Goldman is Goldman,’” the banker said.  “If I knew I was pitching something against Goldman tomorrow, I’d probably make some flippant remarks.”

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