Meet the Man Every Banker Wants to Schmooze

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Brent Saunders Allergan

Work the room

Are you familiar with Brent Saunders? If you’re not, and you work in M&A, you’re seriously remiss. He is every M&A banker’s dream.

Aged 45, Saunders has already participated in around $150bn of M&A deals. As the chief executive of pharmaceutical company Allergan, Saunders he’s been involved in $97bn of deals in 2014 alone. Now he’s selling Allergan’s genetic unit to Teva pharmaceuticals for $40bn. 

It’s not easy being an M&A powerhouse. When Forbes spoke to Saunders, he’d only had one hour’s sleep. Saunders himself called up Teva and dissuaded the company from buying Mylan Inc in favour of Allergan’s business. 

In the early 1990s, New York-based Saunders spent four years working as an advisory services partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, but nowadays he brings in the professionals. Saunders’ favoured M&A bankers include Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, to whom he reportedly paid at least $112m and $56m in fees last year.

If you’re a pharmaceutical M&A banker, you clearly need Saunders on your side. – Morgan Stanley got caught in a conflict of interest pursuing his business last year.  Even if you win him, however, don’t necessarily expect Saunders to thank you for your efforts: “I find [the M&A] tedious and lots of hard work,” he told the Financial Times last month. Meet the perfect client. Just don’t expect him to be easy.

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