Hackers Steal Thousands Of Files From M&A Giant Evercore

We break from tonight's episode of "Powell in turmoil" to let you know that an "unknown" hacker appears to have inside information on a substantial portion of the global pipeline of upcoming M&A deals. According to The Times, thousands of "sensitive documents" have been stolen by hackers in a cyber-attack on M&A and restructuring giant Evercore (EVR).

According to the report, one of the boutique bank’s junior administrators in London was the victim of a “phishing” attack - similar to the way in which John Podesta allegedly handed over control of his inbox to an unknown hacker - in which a recipient is lured into clicking on a corrupt link in an email. The hackers gained access to her inbox, leading to the theft of 160,000 “data objects” such as diary invitations, documents and emails. It is likely that among the tens of thousands of stolen objects was confidential data on the countless merger deals the company is currently working on.

The good news is that according to a source close to Evercore, there was no evidence any of the information taken in last month’s breach had been misused, adding that the hackers’ main motivation appeared to have been to access the administrator’s address book to send further phishing emails. Of course, since there is no way of really knowing what the motive behind the hacks was, or if and how the data would be misused, the bank has had to inform the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, as well as clients whose deals may have been mentioned in the stolen documents.

And there are plenty of those. Most notably, Evercore’s work this year has included advising the Japanese pharmaceuticals giant Takeda on its £46bn takeover of Shire and helping financier Michael Spencer with the £3.9bn sale of his Nex Group broking empire to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

As to what Evercore is working on confidentially, that remains to be unveiled, although if the hackers indeed have the inside track, they could easily demand ransom (in bitcoin or otherwise) to keep their mouth shut or else scuttle tens of billions in upcoming merger activity. It would also mean that the anger of the authorities would be especially focused, and would provide further cyberwarfare ammunition for a full-blown retaliation if it emerges that China is "somehow involved" and is now intimately familiar with the biggest M&A deals on deck.

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