When Goldman Sachs (GS) President Gary Cohn recently addressed first-year analysts while his boss, chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, got stuck talking to the firm’s lowly interns, the rumor mill inside the big Wall Street firm began to churn over whether this was a sign that Cohn was about to get the job he has longed coveted and run the famed investment bank.
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While people inside Goldman say it is unlikely that Cohn will get the top job imminently, they also say Cohn has been bristling over a firm strategy to heighten Blankfein’s profile in recent months, and is demanding some PR face-time of his own.
Blankfein scored major public relations points by doing something that seemed unusual for a Wall Street executive, publicly supporting gay rights, including same sex marriage. He did so while doing some national television, and sporting a beard.
The move helped improve his image, which was battered following the 2008 financial crisis, when he became the poster child for Wall Street greed. As FOX Business was first to report, Blankfein even told friends he was thinking of stepping down as CEO of the big firm.
Now Cohn wants his time in the sun, people inside Goldman say. “Gary wants to be out there more,” said one person close to the firm. “He’s jealous of Lloyd’s publicity.”
A Goldman Sachs spokesman had no comment.
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Succession, of course, is always a hot topic at Goldman. While Cohn is considered Blankfein’s replacement if he were to leave immediately, several executives from the investment banking department are vying for the top spot as well. Both Blankfein and Cohn came from the trading side.
That’s why Cohn believes it’s important that he get more media face time, these people add. Press officials at Goldman have sent Cohn out to do interviews with friendly reporters, and Cohn upstaged Blankfein recently by speaking to first-year analysts rather than interns like the CEO did. More media is said to be in the works.
Some of the new hires that Cohn spoke to told FOX Business that they left the event wondering why he wasn’t the CEO already due to his stellar resume. Cohn has been at Goldman for 22 years, rapidly moving up the ranks before hitting his current role in April of 2009.
Blankfein has been the CEO since June of 2006, and with his relatively young age of 58, it’s unlikely that he will want to step aside any time soon, especially after navigating the firm through the financial crisis.
“Gary Cohn would most likely take over if Blankfein left today, but I can’t say Goldman Sachs wouldn’t surprise everyone and pick someone else,” said Dick Bove, Vice President of Equity Research at Rafferty Capital Markets.
According to Bove, that individual would most likely come from the investment banking area of the bank, rather than trading, due to the bevy of regulations that have been put in place since the near collapse of the financial system. If a slap in the face like that were to happen, one has to wonder if Cohn would even stay at the firm.
“I think Cohn would do something like start a hedge fund if he were to leave Goldman,” added Bove.