“Project Falcon”: Financial Expression of the Day

Like Maxwell Smart's concealed phone, a shrewd deal-man will conceal his "project"

Like Maxwell Smart’s concealed phone, the spying deal-man will conceal his “project”

“Project Falcon”, noun phrase, a characteristic code name for any confidential proceeding, such as a potential merger, take-over, leveraged buy-out, or other financial transaction. Usage Note: When bankers are working on their latest deal, rather than talk about the companies involved directly, they like to make up a code name to use in lieu of the actual situation. So on their computer hard drive when they’re working on a deal for say,  Sears acquiring Target, they’ll name that engagement and file, for example, “Project Falcon”. In the rarefied world of private equity, investment banking and even asset management, the protagonists like to think of themselves as tough, street smart, military-like combatants.  They fancy themselves generals on a field of battle with troops arrayed and lives at stake. One manifestation of this pathology comes in the form of project code names.  Not unlike Military Operation code names, project code names have a sophisticated, covert ring to them.  The primary difference is, there’s nothing so serious at stake as the financiers would like to believe.  It’s hard to pinpoint what spurs these delusions of grandeur, but Bud Fox News asked Commodore Dewey Thigpen, General Superintendent at Her Majesty’s Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich why soft-palmed money men would pretend to such military talk.  The Commodore opined:

A good proportion of these pedigreed pencil necks have never put hammer to nail or done a day of corporeal labor, let alone taken real risk with their careers or their lives. We’ve had a number of them visit the college asking advice on how to toughen up. They’ve been primmed and primped by mummy and daddy since before they were in primary school. Lavished with private schooling, summers in the Hamptons or Majorca, yachting lessons, and ski holidays in France. The vast majority of these posh prigs are not particularly scrappy or resourceful. Perhaps it’s just another device the poor sops use to convince themselves that what they’re doing is manly work while they push papers and toil away on another soul-destroying “model”. Perhaps they make up code names to transport themselves to an alternate reality where they’re clandestine double agents working some kind of espionage.

The Commodore’s assessment is enlightening but what remains puzzling is why so many of these “projects” end up with the code name Falcon.  Bud Fox News estimates that as many as one-half of deals happening at any given time are code-named Falcon.  It betrays a lack of ingenuity, and is an unsafe practice to boot. What with all the hackers at work these days, they just have to go straight for the file named “Project Falcon” and chances are they’ll have their Sony moment.  In light of this, and to help our brothers out, Bud Fox News has compiled a short list of auspicious alternative project names, that will also throw the hackers and opposing financial sleuths:

  • Project Trouser Cough
  • Project Ample Proportions
  • Project Dank Funk
  • Project Heaving Havana
  • Project Beaver Buster
  • Project Redundancy
  • Project Infernal Rash
  • Project Doo Dilly
  • Project Supple Proposal (appropriate for Tender Offers)
  • Project Incorporation Appropriation (appropriate for Mergers, Takeovers, and LBO’s)

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