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Goldman CEO Blankfein prepares to exit as soon as year-end -WSJ


By Catherine Ngai

(Reuters) - could step down as chief executive as soon as the end of the year, reported on Friday, swiveling the focus to fierce competition between the two contenders to replace him.

Blankfein, 63, one of the longest-serving CEOs on Wall Street, has led what is viewed as the most powerful U.S. investment for nearly 12 years. He has outlasted calls for his departure in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 financial crisis and stayed in the job even as he battled cancer.

appeared to distance himself from the Journal's report on Friday afternoon.

"It's the @WSJ's announcement...not mine. I feel like Huck Finn listening to his own eulogy," he tweeted, referring to an incident in the Mark Twain novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

A Goldman declined to comment. The bank's shares closed up 1.6 percent on Friday.

The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that Goldman was not looking beyond presidents and operating officers and to replace him.

The two men were promoted to their current positions in December 2016. It follows a typical succession plan pattern at the Wall Street bank, which tends to name two or three people into roles until one of them proves to be the right choice for further promotion.

Schwartz, 53, had been a of trading for several years before being named in 2012. A black-belt in karate, Schwartz moved up the ranks at Goldman Sachs after starting in its commodities trading division, in the same manner as

Solomon, 56, had been a of Before joining Goldman as a in 1999, he spent time in junk bonds and at Salomon Brothers, Drexel Burnham and In his spare time, he spins music at clubs under the pseudonym DJ D-Sol.

If the power transition does happen soon, it will come as Goldman Sachs is trying to re-invent itself.

For years leading into the crisis and coming out of it, the relied heavily on trading to bolster its bottom line. But market trends and regulations implemented since 2010 have sapped profits from the trading business.

After long insisting conditions would eventually reverse, management last year outlined a plan to change the nature of Goldman's trading business by targeting new customers and launching new products, drive more revenue from units such as and push further into consumer lending, a relatively new business for the

Schwartz outlined a target to grow revenue by $5 billion a year in September, after investors pressured the to be more transparent about its strategy outlook.

Even with its business challenges, Goldman has remained one of the most profitable big U.S. banks in terms of core earnings relative to shareholder equity. Its stock price has risen 73 percent since Goldman announced in 2006 that would become its next through its close on Friday at $270.77.

"Our growth is dependent on the talent of our people, the strength of our culture and the depth and breadth of our client franchise," said last month. "I have enormous confidence in our ability to deliver superior returns to the shareholders over the cycle, as I believe we have."

plans to retire at some point in 2019, which will be year, the Journal reported. He was named in June 2006 after left to become

His former chief operating officer, Gary Cohn, had waited years to succeed and left Goldman to join the as He said on Tuesday he is resigning, without saying what he would do next.

(Reporting by in Bengaluru and in New York; Writing by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by and Susan Thomas)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, March 10 2018. 03:26 IST