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Apollo hires former SEC chief Clayton in board review

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(Reuters) – Apollo Global Management Inc announced on Thursday that it has appointed former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) director Jay Clayton as lead independent director to improve corporate governance as a result an investigation into President Leon Blacks’ connections to the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

FILE PHOTO: Jay Clayton, Chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission speaks at the Economic Club of New York luncheon in New York, New York, U.S. September 9, 2019. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton

The review found that Black, who co-founded Apollo 31 years ago and made it one of the world’s largest private equity firms, paid Epstein $ 158 million for advice on tax planning. and inheritance and related services between 2012 and 2017.

While the investigation, which was conducted by law firm Dechert LLP, cleared Black of any wrongdoing, he said last month that he would relinquish his role as managing director by July and retain his role of chairman of the board of directors.

Clayton was selected because of his professional experience and understanding of private and public financial markets, Apollo said. He will assume the newly created role on March 1.

Apollo said last month that it would consider changing its corporate governance structure, getting rid of the shares with special voting rights that currently give Black and other co-founders effective control of the company. The firm also added two new independent directors.

Clayton served as chairman of the SEC from May 2017 to December 2020. In that role he pursued regulatory changes that critics saw as a burden or a drag on business growth, often in the face of opposition from advocates. investors. Previously, Clayton was a corporate transaction attorney at Sullivan & Cromwell.

The Trump administration appointed Clayton last summer to replace a senior federal prosecutor in New York, but did not pursue his appointment.

Eric Talley, a professor at Columbia Law School, said Clayton would have the leverage to stand up to Black and other Apollo control partners if something didn’t fit with his spider sense.

If anyone can establish their independence in a controlled company, it would be someone like Jay Clayton, Talley said.

Clayton will earn approximately $ 500,000 per year in equity and fees for his services, according to a regulatory record. Such compensation is high for a senior independent director, said Dan Laddin, founding partner of consultancy firm Compensation Advisory Partners LLC.

He’s paid more like a non-executive chairman, Laddin said.

Clayton is one of the most prominent additions to Apollo since the departure in 2014 of Marc Spilker, who was recruited as chairman of the cabinet several months after leaving Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Spilker abruptly left Apollo without any explanation. .

Revelations of black ties to Epstein led company executives to warn in October that some investors had suspended commitments to the Apollos funds pending review results.

The company, however, said in January that despite the controversy, its assets under management increased by $ 22 billion in the last quarter of 2020 to $ 455 billion.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Jessica DiNapoli and Chibuike Oguh in New York; Edited by Arun Koyyur, Shounak Dasgupta and Paul Simao

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