Project Code Names

This article outlines what M&A code names are, why investment banks use in them, and how they are named.

What is an investment banking code name?

Until an investment banking M&A transaction is publicly announced, investment bankers should always use code names in place of the actual company name. This helps maintain confidentiality of the transaction, and prevents any material information from disclosing to lone members of the public before it’s disseminated to everyone.

Upon undertaking any new assignment, code names should be used for:

  • The name of the project or transaction;
  • The name of the client; and
  • Any proposed business combination partner or counter party.

M&A code names should be used in place of actual company names as much as possible, even during communications among members of the Canadian Investment Banking team and with members of Legal or Compliance, as well as in any expense reports and any other oral or written communications.

Different parties interested in the same potential M&A candidate may not necessarily use the same code name. For example, if two investors are looking at a potential target company to acquire and are working with an investment bank, each of the investors may have a different code name for the project that they use with the bank.

Investment banking code names should be selected randomly and bear no relationship to the name of any company or industry that would permit a clever third party to see through the code name and identify the parties involved. Code names should be arbitrary and exclusive.

Some companies such as Goldman Sachs have starting using random software generated code names to remove the risk of using names that hint at the name of a company.