NEW YORK, May 15 - Goldman Sachs told Reuters it has hired two investment bankers, Kerry Burke and Eddie Rubin, from Evercore and Lazard, respectively, as part of a push to double down on its business that focuses on advising on deals worth up to $2 billion.

Best known for its advisory work on mega deals, Goldman has been making a push in recent years to advise on smaller transactions to boost and diversify its revenue.

Burke, who focused on the retail and apparel sectors at Evercore, will join Goldman in August, while Rubin, who advises on deals in the digital infrastructure industry, joined the bank in April.

Goldman set up the unit, called the cross markets group (CMG), in 2019 and tasked veteran banker David Friedland to run it, as Goldman sought to increase its share of fees from advising on smaller acquisitions.

"Our people who are doing middle-market deals are excited about the entrepreneurial aspect of the business - they deal with family-owned businesses, founder-run businesses, sponsor portfolio companies and companies that are growing rapidly. This is all highly attractive business for GS," said Friedland, who is a partner at Goldman.

Friedland has held various titles during his 26 years at Goldman, and spent a majority of his career advising top clients in the consumer and retail industry. Notable deals Friedland has advised on include Brookfield Property's takeover of mall operator GGP, and Las Vegas Sands' $6.3 billion sale of its Vegas properties, including the Venetian casino resort.

The CMG unit, which currently houses 200 employees, focuses on covering five industries - consumer & retail, real estate, financial institutions, technology media & telecom, and natural resources - that are led by 10 senior bankers. Goldman recently moved an M&A banker, Todd Byers, to the CMG unit to drive private equity dealmaking.

Over the past few years, top boutique investment banks including Evercore, Centerview Partners and PJT Partners, embarked on aggressive hiring sprees for top dealmakers as they sought to capture a bigger share of advice on mega deals that generate huge paydays for advisers.

That strategy has resulted in more opportunities for Wall Street powerhouses like Goldman, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase to mop up fees on mid-market deals that are being passed on by boutique advisory firms and other top-tier rivals.

Moreover, a slowdown in dealmaking coupled with a tougher regulatory environment has forced top banks to hunt for newer opportunities to generate fees.

According to data from Dealogic, the number of M&A transactions worth between $500 million and $2 billion has risen 19% in the Americas and EMEA to 206 so far this year. Goldman has advised on 39 of those deals this year, up 44% from the same period last year. (Reporting by Anirban Sen in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)