The cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street are deeply troubled that someone nice appears to be carrying the can for the botched Facebook IPO.
For decades, Wall Street analysts have been considered immortal. They were allowed to stuff up the economy and ended up earning even more cash for their troubles.
But it seems that in the case of the Facebook IPO someone has actually been blamed and fired.
Citigroup stock analyst Mark Mahaney has been cleaning out his desk and collected his p45 and pink slips in the wake of an investigation into the IPO.
Mahaney was a well-known and well-liked figure in Wall Street and some of his chums told Reuters that they were pretty shocked. After all, if someone like Mahaney could be held responsible for dodgy financial advice, then they all could be.
Mahaney was one of the most respected financial analysts on Wall Street.
But Citigroup had to do something. In addition to firing Mahaney, Citigroup paid a $2 million fine to Massachusetts regulators to settle charges that the bank improperly disclosed research on Facebook ahead of its $16 billion IPO in May.
What seems to have happened is that Mahaney failed to supervise a junior analyst who improperly shared Facebook research with TechCrunch.
He also allegedly failed to consult with his bosses before taking a journalist’s questions about Google.
Later he claimed that the conversation had not occurred.
This might be strange given that Mahaney was named the top internet analyst for the fifth straight year by Institutional Investor. What made him famous was that he did not waffle about a company’s chances, while his peers did a lot of that sort of thing.
His involvement in the Facebook IPO stuff-up was peripheral, indeed it would appear to have been his junior analyst which got him into trouble.
It would appear that it was TechCrunch reporters Josh Constine and Kim-Mai Cutler as well as Citi junior analyst Eric Jacobs which caused him to be fired.
Shortly before Facebook’s IPO, Jacobs sent an email to Cutler and Constine. Constine attended Stanford University at the same time as Jacobs and studied social networks such as Facebook and Twitter for his 2009 Master’s degree in cybersociology at Stanford.
Jacobs leaked information about “how the street is thinking about [the Facebook deal] and its estimates”.
The email included an “outline” that Jacobs said would eventually become the firm’s 30-40 page initiation report on Facebook.
Constine asked if the information could be published and attributed to an anonymous source and Jacobs said his boss would eat him alive.
Mahaney was one of a small group of analysts at the many banks underwriting Facebook’s IPO who had cautious views of the over valued offering.
Facebook, whose stock was priced at $38 a share in the IPO, closed Friday’s regular session at $21.94 and has traded as low as $17.55. We still think it will settle at around $13 when the stock becomes unlocked.
Wall Street analysts are muttering that it is “highly unfortunate and darkly ironic” that one of the signature regulatory actions from this IPO so far involves punishing analysts for disseminating cautious information about Facebook.