NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Goldman Sachs ( GS) may be a punching bag for members of Congress and the public but, for the head of a large financial services firm, being perceived as actively disliking Goldman is a different story. BlackRock ( BLK) Chairman and CEO Larry Fink has not gone quite so far. Nonetheless, a profile of Fink in the April issue ofVanity Fair magazine quotes an unnamed former Goldman partner as saying Fink "hates Goldman." The statement seems plausible enough, given pointed comments Fink made during BlackRock's second-quarter conference call last year. During the call, Fink took issue with securities firms "taking the spread between the bid and the ask and...making very luxurious returns," while committing little capital. Fink did not mention Goldman by name, but Goldman more than any other firm had a blowout second quarter driven largely by the taking advantage of the wide spreads described by Fink. BlackRock has signaled its intention to fight back on this front by offering to match certain securities for clients -- a function that is typically performed by dealers such as Goldman, Bank of America ( BAC) and Morgan Stanley ( JPM). Fink also recently took the unusual step of hiring Ken Wilson, a former star investment banker at Goldman, even though BlackRock is not an investment bank. Bobbie Collins, a spokeswoman for BlackRock, disputed the Vanity Fair characterization, telling TheStreet "We have a great professional relationship with Goldman Sachs and senior leaders from both firms know one another personally." She added: "Over the years, there have also been times when Goldman has served as our largest counterparty." A spokesperson for Goldman declined to comment on any possible friction between the two companies. In addition to alleging that he dislikes Goldman, Vanity Fair writer Suzanna Andrews asks Fink about his reported dislike of John Thain, Chairman and CEO of CIT Group ( CIT), a former Goldman executive, and the former chief of Merrill Lynch and NYSE Group ( NYX). Andrews also asked about "reports that Fink in his disdain for Thain, calls him 'John Boy.'" His response, according to the article, was a smile. Despite the backlash against it, Goldman remains arguably the most powerful financial company in the world, and openly picking a fight with the bank would seem to be a risky proposition. As the profile asserts, BlackRock itself has now assumed an importance and influence that may now rival Goldman's, but it could still end up losing out on business opportunities if it's at odds with Lloyd Blankfein & Co.
In that sense, the article, which generally presents a favorable view of Fink, may have also exposed a potential liability for the company. Much as Goldman shareholders now have to take bad PR into consideration, BlackRock investors may want consider whether Fink's hubris could become a problem for BlackRock if he ends up alienating Goldman completely. A larger issue may be Fink becoming more of a name on Main Street, and the additional scrutiny that could ultimately bring down on BlackRock, which manages and advises on $13 trillion worth of assets, doing everything from monitoring the balance sheets of Fannie Mae ( FNM) and Freddie Mac ( FRE) to managing money for Abu Dhabi and Singapore. When you have that much influence, being secretive seems like asking for trouble. Many Goldman critics say that's exactly where the bank has made a mistake. By contrast, Fink appears to have decided that being open with the press and the public is the best strategy. How well it works out for him remains to be seen. -- Written by Dan Freed in New York