Goldman Sachs board meets in Mumbai amid talk of splitting of top jobs

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 29, 2012 15:10 hrs

Board of directors of embattled Goldman Sachs Group Inc held a meeting here on Thursday amid reports that senior executives had talked about splitting the roles of chief executive and chairman, both held now by Lloyd Blankfein.

The meeting is the first in India for the directors of the world's leading investment bank.

Access to the presidential suite hired by Goldman Sachs at Mumbai's landmark Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was blocked to non-guests throughout the morning.

Officials, including Blankfein, Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn and board members,including Arcelor Mittal Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal were in India for a series of meetings, including a dinner on Thursday night with top Indian industrialists.

Goldman Sachs, long Wall Street's pre-eminent investment bank, has become a lightning rod for criticism of the financial industry in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

Proposals to separate the CEO and chairman roles have long been sought by outside groups, but two people familiar with management thinking provided the first indication that internal discussions about such a move have taken place.

Under such a restructuring, Cohn would assume the chief executive officer role and Vice Chairman J. Michael Evans would become president, leaving Blankfein with only the chairman role, according to certain media reports.

With its big potential but low fees and fierce competition, India has proven a tough market for global investment banks, including Goldman, whose business in India includes fixed income, economic and investment research and offshore asset management services, as well as investment banking.

Last year, it ranked second in the completed mergers and acquisitions advisory league table for India, while it ranked ninth in equity capital markets business.

The bank, which in January reported a 56 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit, said in its 2010 annual report it has seen higher revenue contribution from its "growth markets" such as China and Brazil and that it has "much more room" to grow. (ANI)

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