Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton emerges as Trump’s top SEC choice

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By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Steve Holland | BOSTON/WASHINGTON

BOSTON/WASHINGTON Wall Street lawyer Jay
Clayton, who has worked on high-profile initial public offerings
such as Alibaba Group, is a leading candidate to head
the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the Trump
administration, two sources familiar with the matter said on
Tuesday.

Clayton is a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell who specializes
in public and private mergers and offerings, an area that
requires expertise on complex securities regulations and
corporate governance.

Clayton was not available to comment.

He met with President-elect Donald Trump on Dec. 22 and
appears to have overtaken a former U.S. Attorney, Debra Wong
Yang, whose name had been floated as a top candidate in early
December.

Yang declined to comment.

Clayton’s name surfaced relatively recently and he is one of
a handful of other top contenders. Besides Yang, other names
mentioned include former SEC commissioner Paul Atkins, lawyer
Ralph Ferrara, and at least one candidate who used to work at a
prominent Wall Street hedge fund, but whose name could not be
learned.

Activist investor Carl Icahn, who has been tapped by
Republican Trump to play a bigger role in his administration,
has been interviewing many of the of the potential SEC
candidates.

During the height of the 2008 financial crisis, Clayton
worked on major deals involving big banks, including Barclays
Capital’s acquisition of Lehman Brothers’ assets, the
sale of Bear Stearns to JP Morgan Chase, and the U.S.
Treasury Department’s capital investment in Goldman Sachs
, according to his law firm’s web site.

The position of SEC chair will be very important to Wall
Street investors and executives at Fortune 500 companies at a
time when Trump has promised to roll back regulation in a
variety of areas.

Current SEC Chair Mary Jo White is slated to depart at the
end of the Obama administration. Trump is to be sworn in as
president on Jan. 20.

Under White, a former federal prosecutor, the SEC’s focus on
enforcement increased. While some of the cases have involved big
firms, the SEC has also sought to crack down on relatively minor
violations, in the hopes it will deter bigger problems down the
road.

Some investors have said they would like to see the chair be
an expert not only in enforcement matters, but have a greater
understanding of markets and trading issues as U.S. firms face
greater competition for global capital. (Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch in Washington)



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