Bove on Goldman-Facebook Deal: Hug the Public!
In a recent research report titled, Has Goldman Learned Anything?, esteemed Rochdale Research analyst Richard Bove chimed in about the recent controversy surrounding the failed U.S. private offering of Facebook shares by Goldman Sachs (GS) to the bank’s wealthiest clients. In the note, Bove states the following:
“The company is embroiled in a ‘headline’ controversy surrounding its handling of a Facebook offering which implies that Goldman does not understand the public’s interest at all.”
Bove goes onto add:
“I fear that this company may not yet understand that those actions that do not appear to be in the public’s interest can, in fact, harm the company.”
I’m having a real difficult time understanding how Goldman privately raising funds for a private company has anything to do with the public? Am I wrong, or don’t millions of private companies raise capital every year without getting approval from Mr. Joe and Mrs. Josephine Public? What exactly does Bove want Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein to say to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg?
“Oh hello Mr. Zuckerberg, this is Lloyd Blankfein calling from Goldman Sachs, and if I understand it correctly, you are interested in raising $1.5 billion for your company. I know you are arguably the greatest internet brand on this planet, but unfortunately I do not think we can help you because I believe the broader public may not be happy with their lack of ability to participate in the offering. If you don’t have Morgan Stanley’s or JP Morgan’s phone number, just let me know because perhaps they can assist you. Have a great day!”
Come on…Goldman Sachs is not a charitable organization with a mission to make the world a better place – they are one of thousands of publicly traded companies attempting to grow profits. Sure, could Goldman have more discreetly pursued this offering without attracting the massive media barrage? Absolutely. But let’s be fair, the buzz around Facebook is deafening and the paparazzi are following Mark Zuckerberg around as closely as Raj Rajaratnam chases insider trading tips. New York Times columnist and reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin (see Too Big to Fail book review) summed it up best when he said, “You take the words Facebook and Goldman Sachs and put them in the same sentence, it becomes a media sensation unto itself. So I think this was bound to happen one way or the other.”
So while I have no reason to cheerlead for Goldman Sachs, and I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons for the investment bank to be crucified, attempting to raise money for a private company is not a felony in my book. I commend Richard Bove’s altruistic intentions in protecting the public from Goldman Sachs’s evil capital raising activities, and I may even contribute to a group hug with the mass investing public. If he catches me on the right day, I may even give CEO Lloyd Blankfein a hug.
Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®
Plan. Invest. Prosper.
DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients own certain exchange traded funds, but at the time of publishing SCM had no direct position in GS, MS, JPM, Facebook, or any other security referenced in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.