LONDON -- The collapse of merger talks between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Renault marks a setback for a tight network of current and former Goldman Sachs bankers who sidelined Nissan as they tried to convince the French political establishment to back the deal.
Goldman Sachs had pushed out FCA's house bank UBS, which was close to the automaker's late CEO Sergio Marchionne, to lead on the deal for the company.
Helping Renault was New York-based Ardea Partners, a boutique advisory firm launched in 2016 by Chris Cole who had spent 30 years at Goldman Sachs including co-chairing the investment banking business.
"This deal was cooked up among friends who have known each other for years," said a source involved in the talks. "But despite their relationship and banking experience, it all fell apart."
Cole was directly involved in the negotiations on behalf of Renault and had Goldman's chairman of investment banking, FX de Mallmann, as his counterpart representing FCA.
The pair worked closely with another former Goldman banker, Laurent Clarenbach, who spent 10 years at the Wall Street bank between 2001 and 2011 and is now a partner at French boutique bank d'Angelin & Co.
London-based d'Angelin, launched by French banker Benoit d'Angelin in 2017, was brought in by FCA to help market the 33 billion-euro ($37 billion) deal to the French government given his founder's close ties with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The French government owns 15 percent of Renault and was immediately seen as a major obstacle to getting a deal done.
But advisers at both sides of the negotiating table were bullish about finding an agreement."Their long-lasting friendship and mutual trust played a role in keeping them upbeat, even when Paris started demanding more control over the merged entity," one source close to the deal said.