Fun in Fairness Opinions

Only in the topsy-turvy world of the brokerage industry could you get away with anything as loopy as so-called fairness opinions. For non-escapees of the industry, the illogic is this: i-bankers are paid somewhere between tens of thousands of dollars and several millions to opine on whether a proposed deal’s price is fair; but they then stand to then make tens of millions of dollars in “sucess fees” if the deal subsequently goes through.
The Securities Industries Association disagrees (of course) that there is a problem here. Their spokesthingie says:

[When] bankers don’t believe a deal’s terms are fair, “financial advisors do, in fact, advise companies when they would be unable to deliver a fairness opinion upon contemplated terms.” [Those deals] “are either renegotiated or abandoned (usually before any disclosure is made to the public).”

Of course, “fair to who” is a question that gets cheerfully skirted.

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