All go: At one stage George Osborne was reported to have nine jobs all at the same time
He’s the former Chancellor who gave up editorship of the Evening Standard and a string of high-profile jobs to make his fortune in the City. But George Osborne’s new career as an investment banker appears to have got off to an extremely slow start. Robey Warshaw, the high-profile firm he joined in April, has so far missed out entirely on the summer takeover boom in the City, according to analysis by The Mail on Sunday and data firm Refinitiv.
Research shows the prestigious boutique adviser hasn’t worked on a single publicly announced deal since Osborne officially started work there. Robey Warshaw’s last publicly announced deals were in March, when it advised National Grid on its £14.2billion purchase of electricity giant Western Power Distribution and £3.9billion sale of Rhode Island-based The Narragansett Electric Company.
Since then, private equity companies have swooped on dozens of companies – most recently supermarket chain Morrisons and British defence group Ultra Electronics.
That has left Robey Warshaw tenth in the Refinitiv merger and acquisition league table for topearning corporate finance advisory firms in deals involving British companies this year. In previous years, it has appeared higher alongside US giants Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. This year has been one of the busiest for UK takeovers since the credit boom of 2007. Morrisons is in a £7billion tussle between a private equity consortium led by ex-Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy and a group of investors backed by SoftBank, an investment group led by maverick Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son.
Meanwhile, FTSE 250-listed defence group Meggitt is the focus of a £7billion dogfight between two US engineering giants: Parker Hannifin Corporation and TransDigm.
And FTSE 100-listed cybersecurity firm Avast recently agreed to be bought by US business NortonLifeLock for £6.2billion.
Goldman Sachs is top of the table. The US bank – whose London-based dealmaking department is led by financier Anthony Gutman and Mark Sorrell, son of WPP founder Sir Martin Sorrell – has advised on 65 deals worth £89billion.
JPMorgan is second and Bank of America third in the Refinitiv rankings. The top British advisory firms are NM Rothschild in fourth and Barclays in sixth.
A source close to Robey Warshaw pointed out that most of this summer’s deals have been for ‘mid-sized companies’ and are being led by private equity investors, adding: ‘That’s not what Robey Warshaw really does – it mainly works for extremely large publicly-listed corporations. It’s still very early days [for George Osborne]. Big deals can take years to put together.’ Osborne is understood to be on leave after the birth of his month-old son Beau.
Professor Scott Moeller, a former Deutsche Bank investment banker and now head of the M&A Research Centre at The Business School at London University, added: ‘There has been a tendency this year for buyers to tighten their relationships with the banks financing the deals. This is not something that boutiques [such as Robey Warshaw] can provide, as they don’t have the balance sheets to [finance] deals.’
Osborne joined Robey Warshaw to great fanfare after editing the Evening Standard and working one day a week at fund management firm BlackRock for £650,000 a year.
At one stage in 2018 he reportedly had nine jobs, including chairing the Northern Powerhouse Partnership think tank and advising Exor, the owner of Juventus, the Italian football club.
Osborne was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2010 to 2016.
Robey Warshaw was set up in 2013 by Sir Simon Robey, a former Morgan Stanley banker and former chairman of the Royal Opera House, and Simon Warshaw, a former UBS banker.
The firm has worked on some of the largest takeover deals of the past decade. It advised SAB Miller on its £75billion takeover by brewing titan Anheuser-Busch InBev and resources firm BG Group on its £47billion sale to Shell.
Robey Warshaw also advised Comcast on its £30billion takeover of Sky three years ago and the London Stock Exchange’s £20billion takeover of data group Refinitiv.
Last year the three main partners – Robey, Warshaw and Philip Apostolides – shared a reported £17million in remuneration. Since 2013 the trio have shared more than £200million in remuneration.
Senior City bankers said Osborne was brought in to use his network of contacts to lure foreign firms interested in buying British businesses. He could yet be in line for similar rewards if he’s successful. Robey Warshaw declined to comment.