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(Adds background, comments from Clayton and Hinman)
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON, May 9 (Reuters) - U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton unveiled his first major personnel decision on Tuesday, saying he had hired an attorney who worked on prominent initial public offerings to lead the SEC's division that oversees public company filings.
The SEC said William Hinman, a retired partner at the Silicon Valley office of the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, will serve as director of the Division of Corporation Finance.
According to his old law firm biography, Hinman worked on many high-profile IPOs, including those of Facebook, Google and Alibaba - an IPO that Clayton also worked on while he was a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell.
"Bill is widely recognized for his judgment and expertise in the area of corporate finance," Clayton said in a statement. "He has spent the last 37 years working in our public and private markets, and he understands the SEC's mission."
The announcement came shortly after Clayton held a townhall-style meeting with all of the SEC's staff, in which he cited capital formation among his top priorities, according to a person who attended.
The top Corporation Finance Division post will be crucial because of the unit's role in writing rules that govern public and private capital-raising.
President Donald Trump's administration has urged government regulators to focus their efforts on finding ways to cut back or decrease regulations that might hinder job creation or economic growth.
As SEC Chairman, Clayton is expected to take steps that could make it easier for mid-sized private companies to take the next step and go public.
Wall Street financiers have blamed certain post-financial crisis disclosure rules and regulations adopted in the wake of major accounting scandals in the early 2000s for contributing to an ongoing IPO drought.
As director of Corporation Finance, Hinman will help craft any new rules for public and private offerings.
He will also have direct input in other critical areas, including on staff decisions about whether public companies can exclude shareholder proposals from corporate ballots.
"I have worked closely with the dedicated and talented staff of the Division of Corporation Finance throughout my career in private practice, and it will be a privilege to work with them to advance the SEC’s mission," Hinman said in a statement. (Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Dan Grebler)