Goldman, Sachs & Co. is limiting its underwriting presence in Massachusetts after one of its public finance bankers, Neil Morrison, assisted state Treasurer Timothy Cahill in his unsuccessful bid for governor.
The investment firm recently asked the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency to temporarily remove it from debt transactions.
MassHousing replaced Goldman Sachs with Bank of America Merrill Lynch as book-runner on its $69.9 million Series 2010A bond sale, which priced Dec. 1, after Goldman asked to bow out of the deal in October, according to MassHousing spokesman Tom Farmer.
“They asked if they could be recused from basically all of our deals,” he said. “Once we determined it had nothing to do with us, we granted their request.”
Goldman is now an inactive member of the MBTA’s co-senior underwriting pool of five banks. About three weeks ago the bank contacted the authority — which provides mass transit in the Boston area — to request removal from a $273.4 million bond deal that priced Dec. 2.
“They were addressing some things internally and wanted to get through that before they came back as an active participant,” said Jonathan Davis, chief financial officer at the MBTA.
Goldman’s retreat from the bond sales was first reported by Bloomberg News.
It is not clear when Morrison began working as a volunteer on Cahill’s gubernatorial campaign. The treasurer officially announced his run in September 2009, according to campaign spokeswoman Juli Sweeney. She said Morrison was never compensated for his work and did not have a formal job title.
“Neil Morrison was not paid and he served only as an informal adviser,” Sweeney said. “There were no specific duties or a date in which he was hired since he was never formally employed.”
The Massachusetts Treasury Department declined to comment.
Morrison began working at Goldman in July 2008 as vice president in its Northeast coverage group, having come over from UBS Securities LLC.
Spokesman Michael Duvally could not reveal when Morrison left Goldman Sachs, but said: “Neil is no longer working for the firm.”
Duvally declined to comment on Goldman not participating in MBTA and MassHousing bond deals. Morrison could not be reached for comment.
Under the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s Rule G-37, banks cannot work on debt transactions if they make political contributions above $250 to issuing officials.
While the rule allows bankers to volunteer for officials, the volunteering must occur during non-working hours and the bank cannot pay the volunteer’s salary. Political contributions, including volunteer work, that surpass $250 in value must be reported to the MSRB.