Reuters spoke to a ton of Goldman insiders that say Solomon, not Sherwood or Evans (or even Cohn's right-hand man, COO Cohn) is the front-runner for CEO.
Solomon was poached from Bear Stearns by Blankfein in 1999.
One of the reasons that Solomon may be a favorite, is by process of elimination, he appears to be the least controversial contender, according to Reuters:
Gary Cohn... has long been considered his heir apparent. But Cohn came from the trading side of the business, and his leadership during a time of controversy could be a handicap, insiders say.
Yet another potential contender is J. Michael Evans, a vice chairman who oversees Asia and growth markets. But Evans irked some colleagues last year as co-chairman of an internal committee that analyzed Goldman's missteps during the financial crisis... Evans angled for a more prominent role after the committee's work was done, they said, and other top executives were not pleased with the publicity surrounding him.
Elevating a banker to CEO would certainly mark a departure from a long tradition of securities guys at the top, a source told us, and would go some way to reminding people that Goldman is more than just a place where exotic instruments are created and traded.
Installing Solomon as CEO would be a signal that the firm is returning—or wants to appear to return—to its roots an as investment bank, and the idea that it is undertaking socially useful projects.
A recent promotion of Richard Gnodde to join Solomon and John Weinberg as co-head of investment banking, could be a sign that the firm is readying Solomon for a bigger role.
Other reasons Solomon is a star, according to the Reuters report:
- "He has been behind some spectacular deals, even if he is not famous for them."
- "Clients love him, we love him— he's actually a really good guy. Competitors don't love him necessarily, but they respect him" —Goldman banker.
- He's modest; humble; tenacious; hard-working; shrewd.
- His "bland exterior masks a savvy negotiator who can turn on his charm as readily as he can pound fists on the table."
- He has "a very large presence in meetings and rooms... You also wouldn't mind hanging out with David after the meeting's over. That's a pretty unique combination."
Going against Solomon, says William Cohan, who knows him from writing books about Bear and Goldman: "He is just a mongrel. He's not a thoroughbred from Goldman Sachs." The translation of that, we think, is that Solomonisn't armed with an ivy league degree; had a B-plus average; and isn't a life-long Goldman Sachser.
This story originally appeared on Business Insider
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