Blankfein Says Report of His Departure Didn't Come From Him
(Bloomberg) -- Lloyd Blankfein said a report of his exit may be premature.
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. chief executive officer pushed back Friday against a Wall Street Journal article that said he plans to step down as soon as the end of this year.
“I feel like Huck Finn listening to his own eulogy,” Blankfein said in a post on Twitter.
The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter that it didn’t identify, said Blankfein, 63, could leave this year and the bank intended to replace him with one of its two co-presidents, David Solomon or Harvey Schwartz.
Nowhere was the news met with more surprise than inside Goldman Sachs. Members of the management committee were stunned, according to people familiar with the matter. Blankfein, who steered the firm through the financial crisis, has yet to set a timetable for his departure or discuss his plans with senior colleagues, one of the people said.
It’s hardly a secret that Blankfein might move on in the near future. Solomon and Schwartz have been jockeying to succeed Blankfein for months.
Blankfein, the son of a postal worker who grew up in a Brooklyn housing project, has become a billionaire from his Goldman Sachs career. He rose through the firm’s trading business and took the top job in 2006, when Hank Paulson left to become Treasury secretary. Much of his work in recent years has been repairing the bank’s image after Congressional hearings and media scrutiny focusing on the firm’s role in the mortgage-bond bubble that helped bring about the financial crisis.
Solomon and Schwartz were appointed to their roles in late 2016 after the firm’s longtime president, Gary Cohn, left to join Donald Trump’s administration. Cohn announced his departure from the White House earlier this week.
Schwartz came up through the same trading unit that produced Blankfein and ran the securities division during the financial crisis. The Rutgers graduate and karate black belt took over as chief financial officer in 2013, giving him a public platform speaking to investors and media. In September, he unveiled the bank’s plan to boost revenue by $5 billion in three years.
Solomon rose through the financing business after joining as a partner from Bear Stearns Cos. and ran the firm’s top-ranked investment-banking business for a decade. He has also taken on a leading role in the bank’s diversity push and initiatives to improve working conditions for young bankers. The part-time disc jockey, who attended Hamilton College, is also a wine collector and an avid skier.
Mike Mayo, a bank analyst at Wells Fargo & Co., said the bank has four good contenders as CEO a year from now. In addition to Solomon and Schwartz, Mayo said in a Bloomberg Television interview he’d consider Cohn a candidate, as well as Blankfein, “because it’s not certain he will be gone and we’ve had these reports in the past.”
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