named Lloyd Blankfein its next chief executive and chairman, succeeding Henry Paulson, who has been nominated to become the U.S. Treasury secretary.
The appointment ends speculation that the investment bank would split the roles of chairman and chief executive after Paulson is confirmed in the Senate, which should be in the next two months. Blankfein is currently president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs.
The 52-year-old Blankfein rose through the ranks at Goldman as a trader in its massively profitable fixed-income, currency and commodity division. Indeed, many on Wall Street say he has been in charge of day-to-day operations of the storied investment firm for the past year.
Most observers say Paulson's departure should have little impact on Goldman Sachs, which has a long history of top executives retiring early.
"Blankfein has been running the firm,'' says Timothy Ghriskey, money manager and chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, N.Y. "It's not like Sandy Weill leaving
. It's nothing similar to that."
Paulson is the latest in a long line of Goldman executives to enter public service on both sides of the aisle. The investment bank employed former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin; New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine; White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten; and former National Economic Council President Stephen Friedman.
Goldman lost its president, John Thain, to the NYSE Group two years ago, but retained a strong stable of candidates to succeed Paulson.