Wednesday, May 02, 2012

If not Miss Piggy who?

The Goldman Sachs Succession Plan: Bethany McLean on All the names in the Bank's Rumor Mill

Wednesday, May 2, 2012
As Greg Smith's public "I quit!" put Goldman Sachs culture back under the microscope, Bethany McLean on whom the rumor is favouring to succeed CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

Since the all-too-public resignation of Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith, the firm has faced new speculation about its future, and that of CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Vanity Fair contributing editor Bethany McLean, herself a former Goldman employee, considers the field of possible replacements both inside and outside Blankfein’s inner circle in VF’s June issue.

Among them, president and COO Gary Cohn, who within Goldman is described as “Lloyd squared” or “Lloyd on steroids,” and investment-banking co-head David Solomon, who is so connected to Blankfein that “he even has the same haircut.” A candidate who, to his possible advantage, is less connected to Blankfein is vice-chairman J. Michael Evans, who a former partner describes as “the ultimate gladiator” in a league of gladiators.

McLean reports that other names in the rumor mill are London-based Michael Sherwood, Vice-Chairman and co-CEO of Goldman’s international operations, and Harvey Schwartz, who, like Blankfein and Cohn, came up through the commodities division and is now a co-head of the securities division. According to McLean, speculation about popular longtime CFO David Viniar might be “wishful thinking.” McLean also considers former Goldman employee, Tom Montag, now at Bank of America.

“There are no outward signs that the board has lost confidence in Blankfein,” writes McLean, “but Smith’s op-ed might be the final straw in forcing its hand.” As a former partner remarked to McLean, “It might be the first time in history that a Wall Street CEO has lost his job not because shareholders or regulators demanded it but because the public and press did.”

Related: Bethany McLean talks about reporting this story—and whether Goldman Sachs’s internal culture will change, post-Greg Smith—in a Q&A.


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