Star Silicon Valley analyst felled by Facebook IPO fallout

Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:46pm EDT
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By Alexei Oreskovic and Alistair Barr

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The firing of Citigroup stock analyst Mark Mahaney on Friday in the regulatory fallout from Facebook Inc's initial public offering was greeted with shock and dismay in Silicon Valley, where Mahaney was a well-known and well-liked figure.

"Pretty shocked," was the reaction of Jacob Funds Chief Executive Ryan Jacob, who described Mahaney as one of the most respected financial analysts covering the Internet industry.

"I'd put him at the top. If not at the top, then near the top," said Jacob. "He really knew what to look for."

In addition to firing Mahaney, Citigroup paid a $2 million fine to Massachusetts regulators to settle charges that the bank improperly disclosed research on Facebook ahead of its $16 billion IPO in May.

The settlement agreement said Mahaney failed to supervise a junior analyst who improperly shared Facebook research with the TechCrunch news website. (Settlement agreement:

The settlement agreement also outlined an incident in which Mahaney failed to get approval before responding to a journalist's questions about Google Inc -- and told a Citigroup compliance staffer that the conversation had not occurred -- even after being warned about unauthorized conversations with the media.

Mahaney declined to comment.

Mahaney got his start in the late 1990s, during the first dot-com boom where he worked at Morgan Stanley for Mary Meeker, one of the star analysts of the time. He went on to work at hedge fund Galleon Group before moving to Citigroup in 2005. Unlike most of his New York-based peers in the analyst world, Mahaney worked in San Francisco's financial district, close to the companies and personalities at the heart of the tech industry.   Continued...

The sun rises behind the entrance sign to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park before the company's IPO launch in this file May 18, 2012 photo. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach