MOVES-Former BlackRock governance leader Oleksiuk joins Evercore-sources

Dec 3 (Reuters) - Zach Oleksiuk, the former leader of asset manager BlackRock Inc’s investment stewardship team in the Americas, has joined New York-based investment bank Evercore Inc, people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

The hire is the latest move by Evercore to boost its practice of defending companies from activist shareholders and hostile takeovers and advising them on corporate governance.

It follows the bank’s hiring two years ago of Bill Anderson, who was previously head of Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s shareholder activism defense business.

Evercore could announce the hiring of Oleksiuk as early as this week, the sources said, asking not to be identified ahead of any official statement. Evercore declined to comment, while Oleksiuk did not respond to a request for comment.

At BlackRock, Oleksiuk had a voice in how the fund manager cast proxy votes at thousands of corporations each year.

With roughly $6 trillion under management as of Sept. 30, BlackRock is the largest shareholder in many U.S. corporations, giving it a powerful voice on their operations and board makeup.

Evercore has used its shareholder activism defense practice to boost its mergers and acquisitions franchise and land roles in high-profile deals.

It advised U.S. grocery chain Whole Foods Market Inc on its $13.7-billion sale to Inc this year, by virtue of having been hired by Whole Foods previously to help defend it against activist hedge fund Jana Partners LLC. (Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York Editing by Clarence Fernandez)