CalPERS Votes to Separate Chairman and CEO Roles at Goldman; Blankfein Defends Reputation

The largest U.S. public pension fund said it believes if the Goldman chair is not the CEO, the board may be able to exercise stronger oversight of management; Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein faced shareholders at the annual meeting Friday in New York.

(May 10, 2010) — The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest U.S. public pension fund which holds close to $258 million in Goldman stock, voted for a shareholder proposal to split the roles of chairman and chief executive officer currently held by Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CalPERS said it voted 1.81 million Goldman shares.

The $201.6 billion fund announced on its website that it would require Goldman to fully report political contributions and to separate the positions the next time it names a CEO. “CalPERS believes if the chair is not the CEO, the board may be able to exercise stronger oversight of management,” the pension fund said on its website. On the other hand, Goldman’s board unanimously opposed splitting the roles.

In other recent news about the troubled bank, Blankfein faced shareholders at the annual meeting Friday in New York, acknowledging that the bank’s image has been tarnished by the SEC’s civil fraud charges, as well as a criminal inquiry by the Justice Department. Goldman Sachs’ role in the financial crisis is under continued scrutiny, as the SEC tries to prove its allegation that the bank committed fraud by failing to disclose conflicts of interest in mortgage investments it sold as the housing market was waning.

Blankfein, who has led the company for almost four years, used the investment bank’s annual meeting as a platform to rebuild Goldman’s reputation. According to the Wall Street Journal, the CEO said the company would organize a business standards committee that would examine how the company could handle scrutiny over its business practices.

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To contact the <em>aiCIO</em> editor of this story: Paula Vasan at <a href='mailto:pvasan@assetinternational.com'>pvasan@assetinternational.com</a>; 646-308-2742

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