Former Goldman head Stephen Friedman retires from board

Goldman Sachs Group Inc said on Thursday that Stephen Friedman, who once headed the bank when it was a private partnership, will retire from its board of directors because he has reached the company's age limit.

Friedman, who is 75, has been a director since April 2005 and is also chairman of Stone Point Capital, a private-equity firm, according to Goldman's website.

He was senior partner and chairman of the management committee until 1994, when he retired from management. Before Goldman went public in 1999, the senior partner title was equivalent to chief executive.

"Steve has made invaluable contributions to Goldman Sachs over the last five decades," Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein said in a statement. "He's been an outstanding director whose counsel and judgment we've depended on greatly. We thank him for his exemplary service."

Friedman, who started his career as an investment banker, shared the senior partner position with Robert Rubin from 1990 until 1992, when Rubin left to work for the Clinton administration. He eventually became Treasury Secretary in 1995.

As sole head of the firm, Friedman came under such stress that he was admitted to a hospital with extreme heart palpitations, according to the book "The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs."

At a partner meeting in September 1994, Friedman surprised other senior bankers with an announcement that he would be retiring as head of the firm, without a clear succession plan in place. He eventually chose Jon Corzine and Henry Paulson to succeed him in a dual role as senior partners later that year.

Friedman is retiring from the board "as required by the age-based retirement policy in the Company's Corporate Governance Guidelines," Goldman said in an 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The board formally accepted his retirement on Tuesday. It will take effect on May 22, the day before the company's annual meeting.

(Reporting by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by Eric Beech and Andre Grenon)