Jefferies poaches influential activist defense head from Credit Suisse

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The head of Credit Suisse’s high-profile activist defense team has left the firm to join Jefferies in a similar role. Chris Young, a former Credit Suisse MD and head of contested situations, started at Jefferies in New York in August.

Young has spent the last eight years at Credit Suisse, helping build the unit charged with advising companies on contentious M&A transactions, proxy fights and corporate governance issues into one of the more well-known on Wall Street. Young joined Credit Suisse in 2010 after six years as the director of M&A and proxy fight research at Institutional Shareholder Services, which often makes headlines for advising institutional investors on how to vote on board seats and pay practices, among other shareholder issues.

Activist defense has become a bigger source of revenue for investment banks as more public companies face campaigns from the likes of activist investors such as Bill Ackman, Carl Icahn and Daniel Loeb. Hedge funds will often take large stakes in public companies and leverage their influence to chase off CEOs, earn board seats and push for strategic changes – like spinning off or selling parts of a business – in hope of ratcheting up the stock price. Private equity firms and other companies have also been making more unsolicited takeover offers, expanding the need for M&A advisors with experience dealing with hostile bids. Young was said to have worked within Credit Suisse’s M&A group.

Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs operate two of the more prominent activist defense teams, though each has now lost its high-profile head to smaller firms within the last three years. Former partner William Anderson sent shockwaves across Wall Street in 2015 when he left Goldman Sachs to join boutique investment bank Evercore as the head of their shareholder advisory business.

Young began his career as an options trader but moved into M&A after getting his law degree from the University of Boston, according to LinkedIn.

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