Goldman Expected to Formally Name Successor to CEO Lloyd Blankfein

Posted July 15, 2018 10:50 p.m. EDT

Goldman Sachs is expected to name its president, David M. Solomon, as its next chief executive early this week, according to people briefed on the plan. The announcement would formally establish Solomon as the successor to Lloyd C. Blankfein as one of the most powerful executives on Wall Street.

Blankfein, who presided over record earnings during his 12 years atop Goldman, will stay on for an interim period. Anointing Solomon, however, most likely makes it easier for him to put his future lieutenants in place.

The announcement could be made as soon as Monday, according to people briefed on the plan who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it.

Solomon, 56, has been considered the heir apparent to Blankfein since he was named the firm’s sole president in March. But a formal announcement of his ascent had not been expected until fall.

It was not clear what prompted Goldman, which is scheduled to release its second-quarter earnings Tuesday, to decide that it would formalize its succession plan in midsummer.

Blankfein, 63, led the firm through the 2008 financial crisis and reshaped its business model after the downturn. Now, the executive who once joked that he would die at his desk will turn over leadership of a firm that, despite its immense profits, is still adjusting.

Goldman has been grappling with a trading division that is far less profitable than it was before the crisis, which prompted stiff new curbs on risk-taking. To make up for that shortfall, the firm has focused on new moneymaking opportunities in areas like consumer lending. It is also opening banking offices in midsize cities and laying the groundwork for a corporate cash-management business.

Goldman was also one of two major American banks to earn less-than-stellar marks during the recent Federal Reserve stress tests.

Solomon is a longtime investment banker who spent his formative years as a manager at Bear Stearns, where he helped run the bank’s junk bonds division. He joined Goldman as a partner in 1999 to work with its leveraged finance team and in 2006 he was named co-head of its investment bank. He held that job for the next decade before being named co-president of Goldman late in 2016. A little over a year later, he was named sole president and, with that, became the likely successor to Blankfein.

Solomon has said that priorities for the firm include working toward gender parity among its employees and improving the coordination between different divisions that serve the same clients. He has also been a big proponent of the firm’s nascent push into consumer banking, Goldman officials say.

Solomon, who works on strategy and deals with top executives at companies like Walt Disney, Uber and 3M, comes from one of the firm’s mainstay divisions. But his personal interests, which include a side gig as an electronic dance music DJ, would make him an unconventional bank chief executive.

Reached on Sunday afternoon, Solomon declined to comment.