For a retiree who got bumped out of his last job, Paul J. Taubman is enjoying the last laugh.
The 53-year-old banker was passed over for the top job at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS)’s mergers and acquisitions division in 2012, essentially forcing him to quit. Since then, he has become a merger king, the man at the heart of some of the biggest deals in recent years.
Taubman, who at 6-foot-3 towers over many of his peers on Wall Street, was the sole individual adviser involved in the biggest merger of 2014 so far – Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA)’s $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC), which was consummated Wednesday afternoon. The deal netted Taubman a fee rumored to be close to $10 million. (He and the banks that advised Comcast on the deal – Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase – will split a $50 million to $70 million fee, according to estimates from Freeman & Company.)
Just last year, he netted $10 million for advising Verizon Communication Inc. (NYSE:VZ)’s $130 billion takeover of its Verizon Wireless venture with Vodafone, playing a key role in negotiating the complicated deal.
Even before the Comcast deal, Taubman’s success stands out in the competitive world of M&A. Last year’s ranking of the top financial advisers on technology, media and telecom deals is dominated by the biggest banks in the world – Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) … and Taubman, according to Mergermarket.com. At No. 8 on the top 10 list, he ranked higher than such financial behemoths as Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) and Deutsche Bank.
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“I can’t really recall an individual ever appearing in the league tables,” says Jeffrey Nassof, an associate with Freeman & Company's consulting division.
Taubman, who lives in an apartment on Central Park West that used to belong to actor Robin Williams and was a major contributor to Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, worked at Morgan Stanley for more than 30 years. The son of an accountant, he soon dominated some of the biggest mergers in history – lead adviser on Comcast’s $58.7 billion purchase of AT&T Broadband in 2002 and adviser on Time Warner’s $124 billion merger with AOL Inc. (NYSE:AOL).
Taubman put it best at a breakfast discussion last month when asked whether he wants to build his own advisory boutique:
“Retirement is fun, so I’m not sure there’s a reason to change.”