The Rainmakers: Meet the 20 bankers who closed the biggest deals in a pandemic-stricken year for M&A

  • While M&A had a down year during the pandemic, bankers still orchestrated a number of megadeals.
  • Insider partnered with the financial-data platform MergerLinks to identify 2020’s top 20 bankers.
  • The ranking is based lead investment bankers who arranged the largest M&A deals in North America.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

For Wall Street’s rainmakers, the start of 2020 was a nightmare.

Mergers and acquisitions temporarily went over a cliff in the springtime as the world was met with a series of lockdowns and strict restrictions to confront the spread of the coronavirus. In the dealmaking drought in the first half of the year, global volumes collapsed to $1.2 trillion, a 41% decline from 2019, with megadeals taking the brunt of it, falling 69%, according to data from Refinitiv.

But by late summer and into the autumn, activity roared back, albeit with some notable differences — such as virtual meetings in lieu of in-person management presentations and limited celebratory fanfare for completed deals. 

When it rains, it pours, and despite a stormy start for M&A, top dealmakers at firms like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan managed to deliver a series of marquee deals, like S&P Global’s planned $44 billion all-stock acquisition of the data firm IHS Markit, the chipmaker Nvidia’s $40 billion stock-and-cash bid for its SoftBank-owned British competitor Arm Holdings, and Salesforce’s $27 billion cash-and-stock deal for Slack.

Ultimately, 2020’s M&A volumes were down just 5% compared with the year before. The year ended with about 50,122 deals that amounted to about $3.64 trillion in volumes, versus 2019’s 50,538 deals, which resulted in about $3.82 trillion worth of activity, according to Refinitiv data.

Who are the investment bankers that thrived and executed industry-shifting transactions despite the pandemic?

To take a closer look at the people behind the numbers, Insider has partnered with MergerLinks, a financial-intelligence platform that tracks deals and individual bankers, to present our second annual edition of “The Rainmakers,” a league-table ranking of the top 20 M&A bankers based on the size of the deals they orchestrated in North America last year.

MergerLinks, based in London, tracks deals and organizes league tables for bankers and lawyers. To be eligible for the ranking, which is based on the enterprise value of deals, a person must have been a lead advisor on transactions involving companies primarily based in North America. Initial public offerings and financings are not considered, nor are deals in other regions.

To determine its ranking, MergerLinks “works with over 150 advisory companies and checks over 500 sources daily to come up with its rankings, based on transactions over £100m,” according to the company.

“The league tables include the dealmakers leading the transaction, based on information in publicly available documents or provided by the adviser,” the company said. “The total value assigned to an individual is based on deals that were announced in 2020.”

You can read more about the MergerLinks’ methodology and criteria on its website.

While 2020 wasn’t a bumper year for M&A, there were still a handful of megadeals. A number of the bankers placed on our ranking thanks to work credited to the same deals — occasionally advising the same client, as well as negotiating from the opposite sides of the table.

The list features some of the biggest names in investment banking, from giants like Morgan Stanley all the way down to boutiques.

While firms of all sizes made it into this ranking, the highest tiers of investment banking remain dominated by white men. One woman cracked the top 20 this year, compared with zero last year. 

Goldman Sachs had the most representation on the list, with four bankers, followed by Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, with three each.

Note: Deal sizes are sourced from MergerLinks, inclusive of net debt, and converted from British pounds to US dollars at the average 2020 exchange rate. As a result, some deal prices announced in US dollars throughout the year may not match up.

Colin Ryan, Goldman Sachs

Title: Cohead of M&A for the Americas, global cohead of technology M&A

No. of deals: 1

Value of deals: $27 billion

Colin Ryan leads mergers and acquisitions for the Americas and M&A for technology deals at Goldman Sachs. 

He spearheaded the $27 billion cash-and-stock intended sale of the Goldman client Slack to Salesforce, which was announced at the beginning of December. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.

Ryan joined Goldman as an analyst in London in 1998 and relocated to San Francisco in 2005 to help build out the technology M&A group.

He was named a managing director at the firm in 2010 and partner in 2014. During his time at Goldman, he’s worked on a variety of deals for clients in the US, Europe, and Asia.

Christopher Cole, Ardea Partners

Title: Chairman

No. of deals: 3

Value of deals: $31.3 billion

Ardea Partners was founded by the Goldman Sachs veteran Christopher Cole in 2016 with a focus on mergers and acquisitions in financial services.

Cole, who is chairman of Ardea Partners, was previously a chair of investment banking at Goldman, a firm where he spent three decades.

For Ardea Partners, which is based in New York City, 2020 brought some windfall dealmaking opportunities.

Indeed, the firm participated on some of the year’s biggest financial institutions group deals, like advising on E-Trade’s $13 billion all-stock sale to Morgan Stanley, which closed in October, and guiding Franklin Resources on Franklin Templeton’s acquisition of Legg Mason for $4.5 billion in cash, which closed at the end of July.

In addition, Cole also advised Neuberger Berman Group on its announced agreement with Altimar Acquisition Corp. and Owl Rock Capital Group to form Blue Owl Capital Group, an asset manager with about $45 billion in assets under management.

Alan Hartman, Centerview Partners

Title: Partner

No. of deals: 4

Value of deals: $31.5 billion

Alan Hartman has worked on north of $800 billion worth of transactions in his nearly 30-year career, according to his company bio. The Centerview Partners healthcare banker added more than $30 billion to the tally in 2020 with a handful of deals.

He started off 2020 helping Merck spin off its women’s health and biosimilars business into a standalone company and followed that up with the March acquisition of Forty Seven, an immuno-oncology treatment developer, by Gilead Sciences for nearly $5 billion. 

But the marquee deal last year for Hartman was a much larger cancer-treatment buyout by Gilead. In September he and his fellow Centerview banker Mark Robinson advised Immunomedics on its $21 billion all-cash sale to the pharma giant.

Hartman started his career as a lawyer with Skadden in 1989 before joining Merrill Lynch’s M&A department in 1993. He rose to become head of M&A in the Americas but departed for Centerview in 2009 after the financial crisis, following Merrill’s merger with Bank of America.

Jeff Chang, Qatalyst Partners

Title: Partner

No. of Deals: 7

Value of Deals: $35.4 billion

Jeff Chang joined Qatalyst in 2011 from Goldman Sachs, where he was a vice president in the technology, media, and telecom group.

He’s advised on a variety of transactions for a bevy of tech clients. That includes the intended sale of client Pluralsight, a workforce-education website, to Vista Equity Partners for $3.5 billion. That deal was announced in December and is expected to close in the first half of 2021.

He also worked with Slack on its announced sale to Salesforce for nearly $28 billion in cash and stock. Qatalyst advised on the deal, which was announced in December, alongside Goldman.

Chang has advised other clients like Adobe in its $1.8 billion purchase of Omniture, NetSuite in its $9.4 billion sale to Oracle, and SignalFX in its $1.05 billion sale to Splunk, to name a few.

Greg Weinberger, Credit Suisse

Title: Global head of M&A

No. of deals: 6

Value of deals: $35.5 billion

Greg Weinberger landed a spot on last year’s Rainmakers list thanks to his role on what became one of the most dramatic deals of the past decade — Occidental Petroleum’s unsolicited $57.4 billion bid for Anadarko Petroleum, which broke up an existing deal between Chevron and Anadarko. 

This year, the veteran oil and gas dealmaker cracked the top 20 with a flurry of smaller, less acrimonious transactions. The headliner was the midsummer $13 billion all-stock acquisition of Noble Energy by Chevron, a close client of Weinberger.

But others among his haul include his advising of the shale producer Concho Resources on its all-stock sale to ConocoPhillips for $9.7 billion, as well as Parsley Energy’s acquisition by Pioneer Natural Resources for $7.6 billion, another all-stock transaction that creates a Texas oil and natural-gas exploration and production juggernaut.

Weinberger was appointed sole global head of Credit Suisse’s M&A group in 2019 after coheading the division since 2015. He’s been with Credit Suisse nearly all of his 25 years on Wall Street.

Mathew Hein, DBO Partners

Title: Partner

No. of deals: 2

Value of deals: $36.1 billion

Mathew Hein is a partner at DBO Partners, a role he has held since 2015. He works out of the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Hein participated in two deals in 2020, according to MergerLinks, including advising the tech firm AMD on its announced acquisition of Xilinx, which produces processor technology, in an all-stock deal that was valued at $35 billion in October and would result in a combined entity valued at about $135 billion.

The other deal he worked on, according to MergerLinks, was the sale of Planview to the private-equity firm TPG Capital and the growth-equity firm TA Associates, a deal valued at $1.6 billion that closed in December.

“We had a great year last year,” Hein told Insider in an interview. “Since COVID started, we’ve announced 11 transactions, ranging from entrepreneurial private companies up to the $35 billion AMD acquisition.”

He added: “If anything, we have become more productive, and in many ways it is not harder since COVID. It’s easier because we’re more efficient and therefore more thoughtful. There’s no expectation about getting on planes and running around airports. If we can be highly substantive and value-added in a call with the CEO or other party, this environment is quite conducive to getting things done.”

Hein has been with multiple firms throughout the course of his career, including starting out as a financial analyst at Bear Stearns, according to his LinkedIn page, and then jumping to Morgan Stanley in 1995 as an associate. He was there until 1999 and returned in 2001 after a brief interlude.

Jeff Sine, The Raine Group

Title: Partner and cofounder

No. of deals: 1

Value of deals: $38.7 billion

In his 35 years as a Wall Street TMT banker, Jeff Sine has formed an array of key relationships.

His ties to SoftBank and Masayoshi Son date back to Sine’s Morgan Stanley days in the ’90s. But the bond with the Japanese conglomerate’s CEO and founder has held firm through his eight-year run in the aughts at UBS and after he founded his boutique advisory and investment firm, The Raine Group, in 2009.

Advising SoftBank has perhaps never been a busier, more high-profile mandate. In addition to the fraught WeWork saga of 2019, Sine worked on the merger of the wireless operators Sprint and T-Mobile, a deal first imagined in 2012 when Son grabbed a controlling stake in Sprint for $22 billion. The more than $70 billion merger, announced in 2018, finally passed muster with regulators and closed in early 2020. 

After the dust settled, Sine helped SoftBank unload more than $20 billion worth of T-Mobile shares over the summer to raise cash to fund a stock buyback. 

None of these deals counted toward Sine’s 2020 dealmaker ranking, but the next SoftBank megadeal did. Raine Group was tapped to help sell Arm, the British semiconductor firm owned by SoftBank, to the US chipmaker Nvidia. Along with Chris Donini, a Raine Group managing director, Sine helped fetch a roughly $40 billion price tag — $12 billion in cash and more than $21.5 billion in Nvidia stock — for Arm in a deal announced in September that is now traversing the regulatory gauntlet.

Michael Carr, Goldman Sachs

Title: Cochair of global mergers and acquisitions

No. of deals: 2

Value of deals: $38.7 billion

Michael Carr was promoted to his role as cochair of global M&A at Goldman Sachs in September. He previously served as cohead of M&A.

In 2020, Carr advised Lockheed Martin on its $4.4 billion all-cash acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne. That deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021.

Carr also advised Willis Towers Watson in its merger with Aon PLC, which resulted in a combined valuation of about $80 billion at the time of the announcement. Shareholders approved the deal in August, and it is expected to close in the first half of 2021.

Throughout his tenure at Goldman, Carr has held a variety of senior positions, including head of M&A for the Americas and, before that, cohead of the industrials and natural-resources group. Carr joined Goldman Sachs as a partner in 1998 from Salomon Brothers.

Robert Kindler, Morgan Stanley

Title: Vice chairman and global head of M&A

No. of deals: 1

Value of deals: $42.4 billion

Robert Kindler nabbed one notable deal in 2020, according to MergerLinks data, but it happened to be the largest deal of the year. 

Kindler and Morgan Stanley advised the London-based IHS Markit on its $44 billion all-stock sale to S&P Global announced in November, creating a global Wall Street data powerhouse.

Though it was the largest deal of 2020, it was about half the size of the largest deal in Kindler’s 40-year career — that honor goes to the merger of Time Warner and AT&T, which clocked in at $85 billion when it closed in 2018.

Before investment banking, Kindler spent two decades as a corporate M&A attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He joined JPMorgan in 2000 to run global M&A and left six years later to join Morgan Stanley, where he’s been ever since.

Sam Britton, Goldman Sachs

Title: Cohead of the global technology, media, and telecommunications group

No. of deals: 8

Value of deals: $43.4 billion

Before becoming cohead of global TMT, Sam Britton was a key player inside the bank’s tech, media, and telecom group, serving as cohead of its mergers and acquisitions practice. He was appointed to his current role last month.

Last year, Britton spoke with Insider about a busy 2020 in mergers and acquisitions.

“This is a business where experience begets more activity, and there’s a virtuous cycle there,” Britton said in an interview in December, adding that he expected 2021 to deliver more “dream deals.”

In 2020, Britton advised on a number of large deals, including the sale of the cloud-based small-business-solutions company Endurance to Clearlake Capital Group for $3 billion in cash, which closed in February. He also worked on the more than $10 billion cash-and-stock sale of his client eBay’s classifieds business to Adevinta, which was announced in July.

Charlie Newton, Bank of America

Title: Cohead of healthcare investment banking in the Americas

No. of deals: 6

Value of deals: $45.3 billion

Based out of Menlo Park, California, Charlie Newton coheads Bank of America’s healthcare practice and in 2020 turned in one of the most productive years in a 26-year career that includes more than $200 billion in deals. 

The headliner came at the end of the year when he advised Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a rare-disease specialist, on its December sale to AstraZeneca for $39 billion in cash and stock — the second-largest deal in Newton’s career behind the $66 billion Allergan-Actavis tie-up in 2014.

A handful of more modest transactions preceded that megadeal, including Principia Biopharma’s $3.7 billion sale to Sanofi and Nestlé Health Science’s $2 billion acquisition of Aimmune Therapeutics, a biopharma firm with treatments for food allergies.

Before joining BofA in 2015, Newton ran Credit Suisse’s US healthcare investment-banking practice for five years. Before that, he spent nearly 15 years with Morgan Stanley. 

Francois Maisonrouge, Evercore Partners

Title: Senior managing director

No. of deals: 6

Value of deals: $45.8 billion

Francois Maisonrouge has worked on an array of industry-altering healthcare deals in his 35-year career.

In 2020, he advised the pharma giant AstraZeneca on its $39 billion cash-and-stock buyout of Alexion Pharmaceuticals. He also worked on Sanofi’s $3.7 billion acquisition of Principia Biopharma and Blackstone’s $2 billion investment in Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, a developer of RNA interference therapeutics.

Before joining Evercore in 2007, Maisonrouge spent nearly 15 years at Credit Suisse, chairing its life-sciences practice.

Gregg Lemkau, Goldman Sachs

Title: Former cohead, global investment-banking division at Goldman Sachs; incoming CEO of MSD Partners

No. of deals: 3

Value of deals: $45.9 billion

Gregg Lemkau departed his role at Goldman Sachs at the end of 2020 to take on a position starting this spring at MSD Partners, the private-equity firm backed by Michael Dell. The firm manages about $15 billion in assets.

Lemkau was instrumental to the biggest deal of the year: S&P Global’s all-stock acquisition of IHS Markit. He also worked on other deals, including the Goldman client Twitter’s agreement with the investment firm Elliott Management Corp. in March and the intended $2 billion all-stock merger of Topgolf and the Goldman client Callaway.

During his time at Goldman, Lemkau held a series of senior positions in the investment bank before becoming its cohead, including cohead of global mergers and acquisitions; head of M&A for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region; and cohead of the TMT group within the investment bank.

Mark Robinson, Centerview Partners

Title: Partner, global cohead of healthcare investment banking

No. of deals: 6

Value of deals: $51.1 billion

Like his fellow Centerview healthcare banker Hartman, Mark Robinson jumped to the boutique in 2009 after a long run with Merrill Lynch.

He and Hartman teamed up to take down a couple deals together in 2020, most notably the $21 billion all-cash acquisition of Immunomedics, a cancer-treatment developer, by Gilead in September. They also tag teamed the March acquisition of Forty Seven, an immuno-oncology treatment developer, by Gilead Sciences for nearly $5 billion.

Robinson also advised MyoKardia, a developer of targeted therapies for cardiovascular diseases, on its $13.1 billion all-cash acquisition by Bristol-Myers Squibb in October and Momenta Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company, on its $6.5 billion sale to Johnson & Johnson in August.

Anu Aiyengar, JPMorgan

Title: Global cohead of mergers and acquisitions

No. of Deals: 7

Value of Deals: $54.4 billion

As global cohead of M&A at JPMorgan, Anu Aiyengar leads a team of about 200 professionals worldwide. 

She is a cochair of the women’s network within the investment bank and works actively to recruit and mentor female professionals.

This year, Aiyengar advised E-Trade on its sale to Morgan Stanley for $13 billion in an all-stock deal, which closed in October. It was a marquee financial-services deal that led to windfall profits — $81 million — in fees for her advisory group. 

She’s a steady hand on a variety of deals from retail and industrials to the financial sector. Other deals she advised on include LVMH’s $16.2 billion all-cash purchase of Tiffany & Co., which was announced last year and closed at the beginning of 2021, and Home Depot’s acquisition of HD Supply for $8 billion, which closed in December.

Kevin Brunner, Bank of America

Title: Cohead of M&A in the America’s

Deals: 18

Value of deals: $57.8 billion

Kevin Brunner was the busiest banker on our list, with MergerLinks tracking 18 deals to Bank of America’s US M&A cohead last year.

Brunner, who has two decades of investment-banking experience and more than $400 billion worth of transactions in his career, notched that impressive tally of deals in part through a number of smaller buyouts involving private-equity sponsors.

Those deals included Clayton, Dubilier & Rice acquiring Epicor Software from KKR for $4.7 billion; the real-estate analytics firm RealPage selling to Thoma Bravo for $10.2 billion; and Flexera, a software service provider, selling to Thoma Bravo for $3 billion. 

The largest deal of the year for Brunner was advising the chipmaker Analog Devices on its $21 billion buyout of its rival Maxim in July.

Brunner, who cracked our list last year thanks to megadeals like the $39 billion Fiserv-First Data merger, specializes in technology, media, and financial institutions. He was promoted to cohead of M&A in the Americas in 2018.

Tyler Dickson, Citigroup

Title: Cohead of banking, capital markets, and advisory

No. of deals: 4

Value of deals: $59.9 billion

The cohead of Citi’s investment-banking division, Tyler Dickson took a lead role on several marquee deals in 2020, including some notable special-purposed acquisition company mergers.

Dickson and Citi led the efforts advising Churchill Capital III, the blank-check company run by the former Citi dealmaking exec Michael Klein, in its $11 billion merger with MultiPlan, a healthcare cost management platform.

Dickson also worked with Opendoor, the digital home-selling outfit, which merged with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings, a SPAC backed by Chamath Palihapitiya, in a $4.8 billion deal. 

But the biggest transaction for Dickson was advising S&P Global on its more than $40 billion all-stock tie-up with IHS Markit — the largest deal of the year. 

Dickson’s career started in the M&A group at Salomon Brother’s in 1989. He subsequently shifted to equity-capital markets and held a slew of equity-capital markets leadership positions during and after the firm’s absorption by Citigroup. He was tapped to cohead Citi’s revamped investment bank in 2018. 

Marco Chisari, Bank of America

Title: Global head of semiconductor investment banking

No. of deals: 3

Value of deals: $64.8 billion

A semiconductor expert with industry experience, Marco Chisari landed mandates on two chipmaking mergers worth over $20 billion last year. 

While the first half of 2020 was quiet amid the early days of the pandemic, monster deals started to reemerge in the summer. In July, Chisari helped orchestrate Analog Devices’ $21 billion all-stock acquisition of Maxim. In October, he helped broker the sale of Intel’s NAND memory and storage business to the South Korean company Sk Hynix for $9 billion. 

That same month, AMD announced its $35 billion acquisition of Xilinx — the third-largest deal of the year, purchased all in stock — with Chisari helping represent the target in the deal.

Chisari started his career in the industry he now orchestrates deals for. He worked at Nokia in Italy and Finland on 3G technology and then for STMicroelectronics in San Jose, California, developing chip products.

He jumped to the banking side with JPMorgan in 2005 in London. After the financial crisis, he spent seven years doing M&A and business development for Mubadala, the Emirati sovereign wealth fund. He jumped to Credit Suisse in 2016 and spent two years in tech M&A before joining BofA in 2018 to run semiconductor banking. 

Mark Edelstone, Morgan Stanley

Title: Chairman of global semiconductor investment banking

No. of deals: 4

Value of deals: $79.7 billion

Long before he was an industry-leading tech banker, Mark Edelstone was one of Wall Street’s top equity analysts, routinely earning top honors in industry rankings for his semiconductor research with Morgan Stanley from 1997 to 2007.

Then he jumped ship, leaving stock research and Morgan Stanley behind for a post as a senior dealmaker at JPMorgan. After nearly six years, he boomeranged back to Morgan Stanley, and he now chairs the firm’s global semiconductor banking practice, one of the most revered on Wall Street.

He landed the No. 2 spot on this year’s ranking by helping Morgan Stanley land several megadeals alongside the firm’s global tech M&A chief, Anthony Armstrong: the Analog Devices buyout of Maxim ($21 billion, all stock), Nvidia’s acquisition of the SoftBank-backed Arm Holdings ($40 billion, cash and stock), and AMD’s purchase of Xilinx ($35 billion, all stock). 

For good measure, Edelstone advised on one SPAC merger, advising Thunder Bridge II on its $1.4 billion merger with Indie Semiconductor, an automotive-chip and software company.

Anthony Armstrong, Morgan Stanley

Title: Global head of technology M&A

No. of deals: 4

Value of deals: $99.5 billion

Anthony Armstrong earns top honors in 2020 for orchestrating three of the year’s largest transactions. 

With the help of Edelstone, Morgan Stanley’s semiconductor banker, he led Analog Devices in its $21 billion purchase of Maxim, Xilinx in its $35 billion sale to AMD, and Nvidia in its $40 billion acquisition of the SoftBank-backed Arm Holdings. 

Additionally, Armstrong advised OSIsoft, an app developer for real-time data management, on its $5 billion sale to Aveva Group, a British technology conglomerate. 

Before joining Morgan Stanley at the end of 2015, Armstrong spent most of his career in M&A with Credit Suisse. He started his career in the late ’90s at the boutique investment bank Bowles Hollowell Conner and then jumped to Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette briefly before it was absorbed by Credit Suisse in 2000. Apart from a two-year assignment leading M&A for Qatar Holding, he worked with the Swiss bank for the next 15 years, rising to cohead of M&A in the Americas.

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