Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon has reportedly ramped up his involvement in the bank’s day-to-day operations — an apparent effort to quash speculation about his possible exit that muddies the closely-watched race to succeed him.
Solomon — who has weathered controversy over his part-time DJing gigs, reportedly pledging last year to stop playing public events — has made it clear to Goldman’s top brass in recent months that he plans to stay for a while, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
Solomon’s tightened grip on the firm has spurred questions about the future of John Waldron, Goldman’s president and chief operating officer, who was widely believed to be the top candidate to be the next CEO of the bank — which recently posted its lowest annual profit since 2019 following losses from a failed expansion into consumer banking.
Senior bankers had reportedly already been testing Waldron’s loyalty in a move to see if the chief-in-waiting — who climbed through Goldman’s ranks behind Solomon since joining the firm in 2000 — would forge his own path.
Though some insiders believe that the race to eventually succeed 62-year-old Solomon is Waldron’s to lose, others told The Journal that there’s more opportunity for others to swoop in.
“Perceptions about CEO succession and timing at Goldman Sachs have been a pastime on the Street for decades,” Goldman spokesperson Jennifer Zuccarelli told The Post.
“People will speculate, make up their own version of a story or connect dots from unrelated events. The fact is nothing has changed for David and John and they aren’t signaling anything different.”
Waldron and Solomon declined The Journal’s request for an interview, though the two still reportedly maintain a close relationship — as they have since previously working together at Bear Stearns in the ’90s.
“David has never indicated a timeline,” Goldman spokesperson Tony Fratto added, per The Journal, though Wall Street had anticipated that Solomon could hang up his hat as early as this year.
In another signal of Solomon’s consolidation of power, top Goldman banker Jim Esposito — who was also seen as a candidate to one day succeed Solomon — made a surprise exit last month.
Esposito, 56 — a college wrestling enthusiast who played a key role in the merger of Goldman’s investment banking and trading units — made the decision to leave after a three-decade run when it became clear that the path to eventually becoming CEO or president was blocked, The Journal reported at the time.
Meanwhile, asset- and wealth-management head Marc Nachmann and global banking and markets co-heads Dan Dees and Ashok Varadhan have emerged as stars inside the firm, according to The Journal.
Goldman has put more emphasis on the two core businesses after a bold yet ill-fated foray into consumer banking.
Goldman’s lead director, Adebayo Ogunlesi, has recently thrown his support behind Solomon, telling the management committee that the board has confidence in Goldman’s leadership and strategy, according to The Journal.
The bank’s rank-and-file, however, haven’t championed their chief as much in recent months.
Solomon’s sharp-elbowed management style and shallow bonus pool has created rumblings that Goldman is in for a bigger-than-expected talent exodus this spring, sources told The Post in November.
Though some managers had quietly assured Goldman’s workforce that annual bonuses would be better than last bonus season’s dismal payout — when a post-pandemic crash in dealmaking tanked the bank’s results — some members of leadership have walked back on that promise.
As management crunches the numbers and finalizes compensation, top brass has come to realize it simply doesn’t have enough money to give every banker a bonus that will make them stay, according to insiders.
“They know they f–-ked up compensation a year ago and so they promised people if they stayed they’d pay them,” a source with knowledge of the compensation process said.
“But the cold, hard reality is when you look at the revenue pool, you don’t have enough money to make the numbers work.”