Goldman Sachs gets tough on Chinese walls in LBO shake-up

Goldman Sachs is set to bar the use of Chinese walls in complex deals in a bid to stamp out worries over potential conflicts

The change of direction is expected to affect many City firms that count Goldmans as a main client, especially those specialising in the leveraged buyout (LBO) market, including Allen & Overy (A&O), Clifford Chance and Latham & Watkins.

It is understood that the investment bank is attempting to address a number of concerns. Sources said Goldmans is worried that a firm strong in advising senior debt providers may not have the best capability in acting on high-yield financing.

However, it is understood that, like a number of investment banks, Goldmans is also intent on protecting against potential conflict situations, which have been highlighted by the Enron scandal.

Only recently A&O employed a Chinese wall when it acted for Goldmans, UBS Warburg and Barclays on an LBO, after Linklaters lost the mandate on the deal.

It is common in the US for firms to provide one-stop shops, advising on both senior and high-yield debt, separated by a Chinese wall.

A spokesman at Goldmans said there had been no memo or directive on the issue and that over the last two years the bank had used separate firms on different tranches.