In his most recent column, Bloomberg View’s Bill Cohan touts a bit of conspiracy theory to examine the effects of the controversial Greg Smith resignation letter .
While many have been focused on how Smith’s letter is affecting public perception of Goldman Sachs, Cohan looks at another effect—how the letter may affect the candidacy of Gary Cohn, Goldman’s current President and COO, to lead the investment bank in the future.
Cohn had been considered by many to be the popular and most likely candidate to head the bank after current CEO Lloyd Blankfein. A Fortune article last month even reported that Cohn could be taking over for Blankfein by as early as this summer.
Cohan’s theory is this: Because Smith called out both Blankfein and Cohn in his op-ed for being the forces behind the decay of Goldman’s culture, the negative publicity on Cohn could propel another possible candidate for the next CEO, J. Michael Evans, into the limelight.
Evans is a vice chairman and head of Goldman’s global growth markets. Two years ago, Evans was considered to be a formidable contender for the big job, but his “ambitions and sharp elbows” made him lose favour, according to Cohan. The fact that Smith may have worked with Evans in London and made no mention of him in the letter could also be a big positive for the vice chair.
The logical question is, who benefits from Smith’s embarrassing public indictment of Goldman’s culture under the leadership of Blankfein and Cohn? How about the Machiavellian Evans, a former protege of Paulson’s who can be presented to the Goldman board — and to the public — as a worldly, client- oriented, cleaner-than-clean saviour and return of the old-school style investment-banker at Goldman?
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