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John Coates Named Acting Director of the Division of Corporation Finance


Washington D.C., Feb. 1, 2021 —

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that John Coates will serve as Acting Director of the agency’s Division of Corporation Finance. 

Mr. Coates has been the John F. Cogan Professor of Law and Economics at Harvard University, where he also served as Vice Dean for Finance and Strategic Initiatives, and taught courses on corporate law and governance, securities regulation, and finance to lawyers, business students, and executives. He has written extensively on mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, and financial regulation.  

“I am honored to join the SEC,” said Mr. Coates. “I have long respected all that the agency and the Division do as a first line of defense for investors. During my four years on the Investor Advisory Committee, I observed firsthand the staff’s enthusiastic commitment to helping build the world’s most socially productive capital markets. I look forward to working closely with the staff both in daily mission-critical work and as we consider ways to address new challenges facing companies and investors as they seek to raise and allocate capital sustainably and efficiently. 

“John is widely recognized as an expert on corporate governance, corporate transactions, and compliance and disclosure processes,” said Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee. “He has spent the last three decades deeply engaged with our capital markets as a scholar, practitioner, and member of the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee. I am confident that the SEC and all the market participants we serve will benefit greatly from his expertise.”

Prior to joining the faculty of Harvard Law School, Mr. Coates was a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and financial institutions, and in helping companies register and sell more than $10 billion of securities. He has consulted for the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Treasury, the New York Stock Exchange, and others on complex securities law issues. He recently served as a DOJ-appointed independent monitor for a large, systemically important financial institution, and served as an independent consultant to the SEC in its first Fair Fund distribution. During his prior service on the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee, he chaired the IAC’s Investor-as-Owner Subcommittee. 

Mr. Coates received his law degree from New York University Law School and his Bachelor of Arts with highest distinction from the University of Virginia. 


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