Goldman's chief gets bonus of $9 million in stock

McClatchy NewspapersFebruary 5, 2010 

WASHINGTON — Goldman Sachs' chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein was awarded a $9 million bonus for 2009, but in restricted stock that he must hold for five years under a new policy adopted to quiet a furor over the firm's soaring compensation, the company disclosed Friday.

The 58,381 in shares, which will convert into Goldman's common stock in thirds over the next three years, is a fraction of the figures rumored in the media in recent weeks. One New York paper said Blankfein was to be paid $100 million.

Goldman's other four highest officers — President Gary Cohn, Finance Chief David Viniar, and vice chairmen John Weinberg and Michael Evans — received identical awards, Goldman disclosed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Lucas van Praag, Goldman's chief spokesman, said that Blankfein received no other bonus compensation for his performance in the firm's record-setting year.

In 2007, Blankfein received $70 million in total compensation, nearly all of which was his bonus. In 2008, when the economy collapsed, he took no bonus. He did collect a $600,000 salary and more than $235,000 in other perquisites, such as a car and driver, according to the firm's proxy statement filed last spring.

Blankfein reportedly earned $600,000 in 2009.

This new stock bonus amounts to a modest increase in Blankfein's last publicly reported holding in his firm — 3.35 million shares as of March 9, 2009. Goldman's stock closed at $154.16 on Friday, meaning that his interest in the firm is approaching half a billion dollars.

On a speaking tour last fall, Blankfein sought to justify the firm's compensation pool, which reached $16.2 billion — an average of more than $500,000 for each of its 31,500 employees — but later backed off amid a storm of negative headlines over the firm's profitable escape from the subprime mortgage meltdown that wrecked the global economy.

Goldman was the only major Wall Street firm to safely exit the subprime market.

In a series published late last year, McClatchy reported that Goldman sold more than $40 billion in mortgage securities backed by risky home loans while secretly betting that a sharp housing downturn would cause the value of those securities to plummet. A Senate subcommittee is investigating those dealings.

Blankfein ultimately announced that the firm's 30 top officers would be paid in restricted stock and that they'd relinquish those shares if they engineered Goldman deals that later collapsed.

Sylvain Raynes, a former Goldman employee and a critic of the firm, told McClatchy that Blankfein deserves praise for taking "a significant and substantive step in stopping the greed on Wall Street" with a new compensation policy.

In the past, he said, "Usually, you got your money in cash and that's it . . . the only possibility was for you to get rich."

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