Goldman Sachs to open office in Birmingham in UK

LONDON (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs said on Tuesday it would open a new office in the English city of Birmingham, expanding its office footprint in Britain at a time when many rivals are reducing space due to the pandemic.

The bank said the first staff would begin working in the new office in the third quarter of this year, with headcount growing to several hundred over time.

Goldman said its engineering division would be the first to base staff in Birmingham through a mix of hiring and transfers.

The U.S. banking giant’s CEO David Solomon has been among the most vocal company executives wanting to get staff back to the office as soon as local virus restrictions allow, calling remote working an “aberration” in February.

But other banks – including HSBC – have been quick to target deep office cuts particularly in retail banking and even move some staff to permanent home working.

“We see tremendous opportunity to enhance our UK presence and continue delivering for our global clients,” said Richard Gnodde, chief executive officer for Goldman Sachs International.

Reporting by Iain Withers, Editing by Tommy Wilkes

Goldman Sachs London staff return to office: The Guardian

(Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc is preparing to have hundreds of staff return to its London office this week as companies eye a return to normal working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by The Guardian.

Nearly 200 of Goldman’s 6,000 London employees could return to the office after the Easter break, the report said.

Goldman declined to comment on the matter.

Goldman securities case: U.S. Supreme Court wrestles over investor class actions

(Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday struggled in a case involving Goldman Sachs Group Inc over how judges should determine when shareholders can collectively sue publicly traded companies for fraudulent statements that keep their stock prices artificially high.

The justices heard arguments in Goldman’s appeal of a lower court ruling that permitted a class action suit by shareholders accusing the bank and three former executives of concealing conflicts of interest when creating risky subprime securities before the 2008 financial crisis in violation of a federal investor-protection law.

The Arkansas Teacher Retirement System and other pensions that purchased Goldman shares between February 2007 and June 2010 sued the company, accusing it of violating an anti-fraud provision of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and a related SEC regulation.

Central to the dispute are the shareholders’ claims that when they bought Goldman shares they relied upon the bank’s statements about its ethical principles and internal controls against conflicts of interest, and its pledge that its “clients’ interests always come first.” Goldman has argued that these “aspirational” statements were too vague and general to have had any impact on the stock price.

Questions posed by the justices during the arguments indicated that when they rule in the case they could provide guidance to judges to consider the generic nature of a company’s statements in deciding whether market price was affected.

But the justices appeared to struggle over how to make that determination and what evidence may be used. Businesses often seek to limit the ability of plaintiffs to pursue class actions in order to avoid the higher damages often seen in such litigation.

“How are you defining generic or, stated otherwise, what kinds of statements are not generic?” Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked an attorney for Goldman.

Some justices wondered how courts would analyze a class action against a company that simply called itself “nice.”

“There are people who would regard, ‘We are a nice company,’ as a fraudulent statement depending upon subsequent events, and how would they make that case?” Chief Justice John Roberts asked.

The case stemmed from Goldman’s sale of collateralized debt obligations including Abacus 2007 AC-1, which it assembled with help from hedge fund manager John Paulson.

In 2010, Goldman reached a $550 million settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to resolve charges that it cheated Abacus investors by concealing Paulson’s role, including how he made a $1 billion profit by betting the sale of collateralized debt obligations would fail.

The plaintiffs said that the share price would have been lower if the truth had been known about the company’s conflicts of interest, adding that they lost more than $13 billion due to Goldman’s conduct.

The Manhattan-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year upheld a federal judge’s decision to let the plaintiffs sue as a group and rejected the company’s argument that generic statements can never impact a stock price.

A ruling is due by the end of June.

Goldman sold $10.5 billion of stocks in block-trade spree: Bloomberg News

Shares in ViacomCBS and Discovery tumbled around 27% each on Friday, while U.S.-listed shares of China based Baidu and Tencent Music plunged during the week, dropping as much as 33.5% and 48.5%, respectively, from Tuesday’s closing levels.

Eric Handler at MKM Partners, who covers Discovery, on Friday said that large blocks of shares in both Viacom and Discovery companies were put in the market on Friday, likely exacerbating the declines.

An email to clients seen by Bloomberg News said Goldman sold $6.6 billion worth of shares of Baidu Inc, Tencent Music Entertainment Group and Vipshop Holdings Ltd, before the U.S. market opened on Friday, the report on Saturday said.

Following this, Goldman sold $3.9 billion worth of shares in ViacomCBS Inc, Discovery Inc, Farfetch Ltd, iQIYI Inc and GSX Techedu Inc, according to the report.

A source familiar with the matter said on Saturday that Goldman was involved in the large block trades.

Goldman Sachs did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The Financial Times reported that Morgan Stanley sold $4 billion worth of shares earlier in the day, followed by another $4 billion in the afternoon.

Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

The Financial Times reported that Goldman told counterparties that the sales were prompted by a “forced deleveraging”, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

CNBC reported here that the selling pressure was due to liqudation of positions by family office Archegos Capital Management, citing a source with direct knowledge of the situation. A person at Archegos who answered the phone declined to comment.

Goldman-backed ThredUp looks to raise up to $168 million through U.S. IPO

Goldman Sachs-backed ThredUp Inc is looking to raise up to $168 million through a U.S. initial public offering, a regulatory filing by the online resale clothing firm showed on Wednesday.

The company said it planned to sell 12 million shares, priced at between $12 per share and $14 per share, fetching a valuation of around $1.3 billion at the upper end of the range.

E-commerce firms have benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic as people preferred to stay indoors and shop online, prompting a clutch of digital resellers, including Poshmark Inc and shopping app Wish’s parent ContextLogic Inc, to go public in recent months.

Founded in 2009, ThredUp has processed more than 100 million unique items so far from 35,000 brands, its filing showed. It had about 1.24 million active buyers and 428,000 active sellers on its platform as of Dec. 31, 2020.

The company’s revenue rose 14% to $186 million in 2020, while its net loss widened to $47.9 million, from a loss of $38.2 million a year earlier.

ThredUp, whose investors include Trinity Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Highland Capital Partners and Upfront Ventures, raised $175 million in a funding round in 2019.

The resale firm said it would use $500,000 of the proceeds from the offering to start an environmental policy function to advocate the reuse of apparel.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the lead underwriters of the offering.

Goldman holds top rank in activism defense, Spotlight takes No. 2 spot

Goldman Sachs ranked as the top financial adviser to companies targeted by activist investors in 2020, holding onto the top ranking for the second straight year, according to Refinitiv data published on Monday.

During 2020, Goldman advised on 49 campaigns, including Twitter, EBay and Harley Davidson , down modestly from 53 in 2019.

The top 10 advisers worked on 186 campaigns last year, when the pandemic curbed activism, compared with 197 in 2019.

Morgan Stanley, which held the No. 1 spot for several years, slipped to the No. 3 position, having worked on 26 campaigns in 2020 after 44 campaigns in 2019.

Spotlight Advisors, which works for both companies and activists, moved into the No. 2 spot with 31 campaigns.

Bank of America, Lazard and Evercore followed with 22, 17 and 14 engagements respectively.

Various providers compile league tables that are often used as data points to woo new clients. But they seldom tell the entire story, bankers say, noting that discrepancies can arise because many companies fend off activists privately and ask their advisers to stay silent about their involvement.

Elliott Management held onto its spot as the busiest activist, having launched 17 campaigns last year after 11 in 2019.

Olshan Frome Wolosky was the busiest law firm, working on 85 engagements for activists. Vinson & Elkins LLP, which handled 47 campaigns, including six for activists and 41 for companies, followed in the No. 2 spot. Sidley Austin LLP tied V&E with 41 company engagements and ranked in the No. 3 spot.

Innisfree and Okapi Partners were the top proxy solicitors.