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Hullabaloo


Sunday, March 29, 2009

 
Too Rich To Fail

by digby

What a racket:

The financial giant Goldman Sachs spent tens of millions of dollars to bail out two senior executives last fall who were short on cash, according to the bank’s proxy statement filed on Friday.

In an unusual move, Goldman bought back stakes in some internal investment funds from Jon Winkelried, the bank’s co-chief operating officer, and Gregory K. Palm, its general counsel.

Both executives are among the largest shareholders in the bank, owning more than a million shares each, and directors were concerned that a large sale of Goldman shares by the two men would alarm investors during a period of market turmoil, according to a person briefed on the matter.

To avoid the stock sales, Goldman paid Mr. Winkelried, who retired last month, $19.7 million to purchase about 30 percent of his investments in internal hedge funds and private equity investments.

The bank paid $38.3 million to Mr. Palm for about a quarter of his investments.

Soon after the bank aided the two executives, Warren E. Buffett invested $5 billion in Goldman, and the bank’s top four executives agreed not to sell more than 10 percent of their stock for three years.

[...]

Goldman was the last Wall Street firm to go public, and many partners there, current and former, have held onto their stock since the offering 10 years ago because they did not want to pay the large tax bills attached to the profits that would accrue from sales of their shares.

Some partners and other employees there borrowed against their stock for living expenses or to make other investments in areas like hedge funds and private equity funds.

In a much-noticed sign of the times, Mr. Winkelried, a former investment banker, put his estate in Nantucket on the market last fall for $55 million. He has since lowered the price. He also owns a home in Short Hills, N.J., and a horse farm in Colorado.

Mr. Winkelried spent 27 years at the bank, working in areas like leveraged finance and rates and commodities before being named a senior executive. Mr. Palm still works at Goldman, where he has been head or co-head of the legal department since 1992, when he joined the bank from the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell. In 2007, he endowed a professorship in economics at his alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Last fall, he represented Goldman before a Senate panel that focused in part on bank compensation.

What a great business for the guys at the top. No matter what happens they always wind up getting bailed out to the tune of millions of dollars.


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