Three Goldman Sachs bankers left the company after two failed to identify themselves to a potential buyer who was looking to acquire KFC’s operator in the Middle East.
Two of the bankers met with Emaar Properties PJSC and other financial services without identifying themselves as Goldman Sachs employees, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. The three bankers were acting as advisors to the company at the time—breaching internal guidelines.
Goldman (GS) is also helping Emaar raise $2 billion to buy Kuwait Food, which also operates TGI Friday’s and Pizza Hut in the Middle East and North Africa
The third banker was forced out of the bank for knowing about the meeting but not reporting it to supervisors. The bankers left in December. Other bank employees involved in the incident were also disciplined.
“We take these matters seriously and act appropriately based on the standards we expect of our people,” Goldman Sachs said in a statement on Wednesday to Bloomberg.
The disciplinary action comes at a time when Wall Street banks are increasingly put under the microscope for their advisory role in M&A deals. 2015 was a record breaking year for M&As, with deal volume surpassing $5 trillion for the first time in history, according to Dealogic. That was the third year in a row that M&A volume broke the previous high.
In 2014, Goldman Sachs came under fire for a share counting error that pulled $100 million away from Tibco Software investors (TIBX). Goldman Sachs had played an advisory role in Vista Equity Partner’s acquisition of Tibco — but doubled counted some of Tibco’s shares outstanding, leading Vista to pay $4.2 billion rather than $4.3 billion. Tibco investors eventually settled for the lower figure, though they are now facing allegations of covering up the error on purpose.
In 2014, RBC Capital Markets was ordered to pay $76 million to shareholders of Rural/Metro, an emergency services organization. A judge at the Delaware Supreme Court decided that RBC had, in short, incentivized bidders to retain RBC’s services in order to push down the price of Rural/Metro’s bid, while the bank financed the E.M.S. deal. The bank was advising Rural/Metro at the time over its acquisition by private equity firm Warburg Pincus.