It took about two and a half hours for Lloyd Blankfein to mention the Senate hearing hearing at Goldman’s annual shareholder meeting.When he finally did, he said, “The Senate hearing was not the most comfortable moment in my life.”
Of course that’s putting it gently. Blankfein was grilled for almost three and a half hours during last week’s Senate hearing and while today’s shareholder meeting hasn’t been nearly as aggressive (Senator Levin came down very hard on Blankfein about the firm’s profitting while America fell into the dumps, Goldman’s “selling crap,” and being like a gambling house, and that was just the first hour), the CEO is still facing difficult questions about Goldman’s and his futures.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which is there liveblogging the meeting, two speakers suggested Goldman split the role of Chairman and CEO. Blankfein has said repeatedly that he has no desire to step down and many important shareholders have said they are in support of his staying.
Item 8 out of 12 today was “Shareholder Proposal Regarding Separate Chair & CEO.”
Two shareholders in particular were in support of the separation. Of course Evelyn Davies, who earlier went off on Blankfein for hiring his two sons, is in support of it.
“I can’t think of any company where this is more necessary than Goldman Sachs,” said Ms. Davis.
Tim Smith from Walden Asset Management says the chairman split is “very important to regain credibility.”
But then most of the shareholders quickly apparently errupted in applause in support of Blankfein keeping both the position of chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. So who knows?
For an argument on why he will step down, read Henry Blodget’s take.