Tuesday, February 02, 2021

SEC names CorpFin Acting Director and Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and ESG

By Lene Powell, J.D.

The SEC announced that John Coates will serve as Acting Director of the Division of Corporation Finance. In addition, Satyam Khanna will serve as Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and ESG in the office of Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee. Coates joins the SEC from Harvard Law and is a member of the SEC Investor Advisory Committee, while Khanna rejoins the SEC after a stint at NYU Law and on the Biden-Harris transition team for banking and securities regulation.

CorpFin Acting Director. John Coates replaces former Director Bill Hinman, who departed the SEC last December. Shelly Parratt served briefly as Acting Director, then retired from the agency in January after 35 years of service.

Among other positions, Coates currently is the John F. Cogan, Jr. Professor of Law and Economics at Harvard Law School, where he teaches corporate governance, M&A, finance, and related topics. Coates has served on the SEC Investor Advisory Committee for four years and is also a fellow of the American College of Governance Counsel and the European Corporate Governance Institute. Before joining Harvard, 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.

"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."

Climate and ESG policy. In a new role in the office of Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee, Satyam Khanna will return to the SEC to serve as Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and ESG. In this capacity, Khanna will advise the agency on environmental, social, and governance matters and advance related new initiatives across its offices and divisions.

Most recently, Khanna was a resident fellow at NYU School of Law’s Institute for Corporate Governance and Finance and served on the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition’s Federal Reserve, Banking, and Securities Regulators Agency Review Team.

Khanna previously served at the SEC as counsel to SEC Commissioner Robert J. Jackson Jr., and was also previously a member of the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee, where he served on the Investor-As-Owner Subcommittee and was a senior advisor to the Principles for Responsible Investment. Prior to that, Khanna was staff member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council at the U.S. Treasury Department and was a litigation associate at the law firm McDermott Will & Emery.

"I am thrilled that Satyam is returning to the SEC to oversee and coordinate the agency’s efforts related to climate risk and other ESG developments, issues of great significance to investors and the capital markets," Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee stated. "Having a dedicated advisor on these issues will allow us to look broadly at how they intersect with our regulatory framework across our offices and divisions. Satyam’s experience, insight, and resourcefulness will help ensure our efforts in this space are thoughtful and effective."