Here’s one for the lesson books. Talking at a conference on fiduciary duty, the head of wealth management for RBC in the U.S., John Taft, said a few words about the bank’s role in the upcoming Alibaba IPO, ended up losing RBC a spot in the financing syndicate.
Taft was speaking at a conference that was dealing with the question of whether brokers need to be held to the same fiduciary duty that registered investment advisors are in the U.S. As a way of explaining why that is impractical, Taft brought up the example of RBC’s upcoming role in the Alibaba IPO. Bad, bad move as it turns out. Uttering the name of the company in the quiet period leading up to the offering was considered a violation of U.S. securities law. RBC ended up being removed from the syndicate of 35 banks working the IPO, which was the largest in history. The company lost $2.5 million in fees and has suffered “reputational risk” according to experts (The Wall Street Journal reported on this last night, the Globe and Mail this morning).
The lesson: You just never mention the name of the company during the quiet period, no matter what.