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Jay Clayton confirmed as SEC chairman

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Jay Clayton as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He replaces Michael Piwowar, who was named acting chairman following the resignation of Mary Jo White in January.

In a 61-37 vote, the Senate approved Clayton's nomination. Clayton, a former adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, has deep ties to Wall Street. As a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Clayton advised clients on numerous mergers and initial public offerings, including a record-setting $25 billion IPO by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2014.

In the months leading up to the financial crisis, Clayton advised Bear Stearns and Co on its sale to JPMorgan Chase & Co., before providing consultation to Barclays Capital with its purchase of Lehman Brothers' assets in 2008. Clayton also served as an adviser to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. during the crisis on a $5 billion investment from Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Clayton received some opposition from the Senate Banking Committee on April 4, which voted 15-8 to send his confirmation to the full Senate. In total, three Democratic members of the panel, Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Jon Tester, D-Mo., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., cast votes in support of Clayton. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the ranking member of the committee, voted against the confirmation, arguing that Clayton's prior engagements could leave him "hopelessly conflicted in the SEC's most high profile enforcement actions."

Upon his nomination in January, Clayton pledged to carefully monitor the nation's financial sector if confirmed. At the time, U.S. president Donald Trump described Clayton as an expert on many aspects of financial and regulatory law.