Citigroup stock analyst Mark Mahaney was fired Friday as a result of the regulatory fallout from Facebook’s initial public offering. Mahaney was a popular figure in Silicon Valley where his firing was met with shock and dismay.
Aside from the firing of Mahaney, Citigroup had to pay $2 million as fine to Massachusetts regulators as settlement to the claims that the bank disclosed research on Facebook ahead of the social network’s $16 million IPO last May.
The settlement agreement said that Mahaney failed to supervise a junior analyst who improperly shared Facebook research with the online news site TechCrunch. The settlement also reported an incident where Mahaney failed to get approval first before answering a journalist’s questions regarding Google Inc. Then he told a Citigroup compliance staffer that the conversation didn’t happen. He did this after being warned about unauthorized conversations with the press.
Mahaney started his career in the late 1990s during the first dot-com boom at Morgan Stanley for Mary Meeker, who was one of the star analysts at that time. He then went to work with hedge fund Galleon Group before going to Citigroup in 2005.
Mahaney was based in San Francisco’s financial district to be close to the companies and people at the center of the tech industry. Earlier this month, Mahaney was named the top internet analyst for the fifth year in a row by Institutional Investor. He is described as having a systematic investment approach that allows him to prevent the waffling experienced by other analysts.
Mahaney’s Buy rating on IAC/InteractiveCorp in April 20111 allowed investors to get a 51 percent gain before he downgraded the stock to a Hold at $50.31. It is not just his stock picks that made him popular. People say that he is a genuinely nice guy.
According to the settlement, Mahaney was indirectly involved in the incident involving Facebook research. It was the actions of the junior analyst who worked under him provide a glimpse into the type of information trading that regulators wanted to control.