Goldman Sachs announced in an internal memo yesterday that Johan Leven, who was co-head of mergers and acquisitions for Asia ex-Japan together with Richard Campbell-Breeden, has resigned. The M&A business for the region will now be headed by Campbell-Breeden alone.
Sources close to the situation say Leven has left to pursue entrepreneurial options and that he will continue to be based in the region. He will remain at Goldman Sachs until the end of September.
Leven was promoted to partner at Goldman in 2004. Before that he became a managing director in 2000, while based in Sydney.
Leven joined the US investment bank in 1990 from the corporate finance department of Swedish securities firm Enskilda Securities. His first job at Goldman was in the mergers and acquisitions department in London. He became a vice-president in 1996 and was based in the firm's Frankfurt office between 1996 and 1998, and was thereafter the chief operating officer of the firm's investment banking division in Australia between 1999 and 2001.
In 2001 Leven moved to Hong Kong to focus on clients in Asia ex-Japan. Since then he has held roles as head of corporate finance, COO of investment banking, co-head of the financial sponsor group, and sole head of the M&A group, all referring to the Asia ex-Japan region.
In June 2008 Goldman announced it was moving two partners, Ravi Sinha and Richard Campbell-Breeden, to Hong Kong. Sinha, who was then co-head of the bank's global natural resources group, became co-head of the investment banking division in Asia together with Mark Machin. In March this year Machin was relocated to Beijing with the mandate to help build the bank's business in China, leaving Sinha in sole command of the ship in Hong Kong.
Campbell-Breeden was co-head of the European financial sponsor group and took on the role of co-head of M&A in Asia in August last year, working alongside Leven. Campbell-Breeden will now become sole head of M&A for the region.
The industry-product matrix structure within which Goldman Sachs and various other investment banks function means the head of M&A does not necessarily play a role on every M&A transaction, rather he has to earn his involvement, a source said. Clients sometimes prefer that industry bankers, with whom the client has a high level of familiarity, lead them through the intricacies of an M&A deal. The situation is further complicated by the country structure whereby the country heads, who again have built strong relationships with their clients based on selling a suite of products and services, may also be involved in the execution of deals, rather than just the origination.
All this works more seamlessly when investment banking activity flourishes and the pie is large enough for everyone. But when markets become difficult, the number of deals falls, typically because of a combination of reduced CEO confidence and tighter liquidity. This is when there is not necessarily enough business for everyone. And some sources say all this may have played a role in convincing Leven it was time, after a 19-year career with Goldman, to hang up his boots.