Citi’s Basil Geoghegan Straddles M&A and Equity Capital Markets

The investment banker has climbed Mount Everest, a feat that bears some resemblance to his work advising struggling U.K. banks.


When Basil Geoghegan reached the summit of Mount Everest on May 19, 2011, he didn’t get carried away. “With Everest it’s not just about getting to the top,” the Citigroup banker says. “The job isn’t done until you’re at the bottom, and there is an awful lot that can go wrong on the way down.”

Geoghegan (pronounced “gay-gan”), 43, brings that self-control and pragmatism to mergers and acquisitions and equity deals. The London-based managing director with Citi’s financial institutions group worked on last month’s £5.8 billion ($9.4 billion) rights issue by Barclays. Geoghegan had dealt with the British bank before: In 2008, as a managing director at Goldman Sachs Group, the Irishman advised Sheikh Mansour bin-Zayed bin-Sultan al-Nahyan, deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, on a £3.6 billion investment that helped London-based Barclays avoid a taxpayer bailout after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings.

Since joining Citi in 2011, Geoghegan has taken on responsibility for the U.S. bank’s U.K. financial institutions clients and oversight of its Irish business. Last year he represented U.S. power management provider Eaton Corp. on its $13 billion acquisition of Dublin-headquartered electrical-products maker Cooper Industries, the biggest-ever takeover of a public Irish company. He also advised London Stock Exchange Group on its recent £386 million purchase of London-based clearinghouse LCH.Clearnet.

Citi ranked eighth in the FIG sector in Europe last year, advising on 17 deals worth a total $25.1 billion, according to Dealogic. That represented a 90 percent surge over 2011, when it worked on 13 with a total value of $13.2 billion, good for ninth place in the league table.

Geoghegan attended a Benedictine boarding school and earned a law degree from his hometown’s Trinity College Dublin. In 1992 he headed to Italy, where he completed a master’s in competition law at the European University Institute in Florence. Geoghegan joined U.K. law firm Slaughter and May’s London office as an associate in capital markets and banking but soon left for Goldman Sachs because he craved a bigger role in M&A. Starting out as an M&A generalist in London in 1995, he spent two years with Goldman in New York before becoming a banking specialist in 2006.

As the global financial crisis erupted, Geoghegan advised Her Majesty’s Treasury following the 2007 collapse of U.K. bank Northern Rock, which later received more than £27 billion in loans from the Bank of England to keep it afloat. After Goldman held an auction, the government decided to nationalize the struggling lender. Geoghegan describes that mandate as his most memorable: “Northern Rock was fascinating because it was a completely new situation and the rule book had not been written for a bank failure.”

In 2008 the father of four, who spends weekends at his home near Dublin, counseled the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority on Anglo Irish Bank, which had been battered by the country’s real estate meltdown. Geoghegan opposed the Irish government’s decision to guarantee the deposits and bonds of all Irish banks for two years. “The blanket bank guarantee was the wrong thing to do at the time, and the decision was taken by neophytes who made the mistake of not looking abroad for solutions,” he says. “But a lot of good work has been done since.” (Nationalized in 2009 and rebranded two years later, the former Anglo Irish Bank is now being wound down.)

In 2009, Geoghegan joined Deutsche Bank as a managing director in its U.K. and Ireland group. He moved from financial institutions to the corporate world a year later when Reading, England–based telecom Acision recruited him to restructure the company and lead a $250 million refinancing. “Basil has the ability to cut to the chase when working on transactions,” says Christopher Saul, London-based senior partner at Slaughter and May.

Geoghegan says he moved to Citi to be part of the firm’s rebuilding after some difficult years. “The markets have reached equilibrium, and our team is enjoying a period of stability,” he notes.

Last month Geoghegan also took charge of overseeing and expanding Citi’s coverage of U.K. asset managers and insurers. Another of his duties is serving as treasurer of the Ireland Fund of Great Britain; it was in support of this charity, which helps Irish emigrés, that the keen alpinist conquered Everest. “I spend a lot of time in Chamonix — climb in the summer, ski in the winter,” Geoghegan says. “When you’re on a ridge with a 3,000-foot drop either side of you, all you can think about is the next step and nothing else. I find that quite relaxing.” • •

Read more: “Europe’s Banks, Slow to Restructure, Pose a Systemic Risk Today