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Goldman's Blankfein Gets $9 Million Bonus

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was awarded $9 million in stock for his performance in 2009, a year in which profit soared to an all-time high and the shares doubled

(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein was awarded $9 million in stock for his performance in 2009, a year in which profit soared to an all-time high and the shares doubled.

The sum falls short of the Wall Street record that Blankfein, 55, set with his $67.9 million bonus in 2007. Blankfein’s payment of 58,381 restricted stock units, valued at $9 million at today’s closing price of $154.16, was disclosed today in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm in Wall Street history, cut the percentage of revenue earmarked for pay to the lowest in its 10 years as a public company. The New York- based firm aimed to allay anger about banks whose profits and pay rebounded within a year of taking government bailouts while the U.S. jobless rate was about 10 percent.

“There’s a perception amongst the public that if it wasn’t for the bailout that these firms wouldn’t have these profits and therefore wouldn’t be able to pay the size of bonuses,” said Joseph Sorrentino, a managing director at Steven Hall & Partners LLC, a New York-based executive compensation consulting firm. “Main Street sees it as these guys are earning ridiculous amounts of money while the average American is having a difficult time.”

Blankfein’s bonus compares with about $17 million in restricted stock and options that JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it awarded today to CEO Jamie Dimon, 53. James Gorman, 51, who became CEO of Morgan Stanley at the start of this year, was awarded deferred stock grants valued at about $8.6 million for 2009.

Household Income Falls

By contrast, the real median household income in the U.S. fell 3.6 percent in 2008 to $50,303, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report published in September.

JPMorgan waited three weeks after reporting 2009 earnings to release details of Dimon’s bonus, while Goldman Sachs delayed more than two weeks, fanning speculation that each firm wanted to see their rivals’ pay details first. Firms typically release executive pay details within days of the earnings report.

The fact that Blankfein received less than Dimon shows that the firm is bending to public outrage, said Steven Hall’s Sorrentino.

“They’re bowing to public perception,” Sorrentino said. “In a different environment, absent TARP and absent the recession, maybe they would pay out more.”

Five-Year Limit

Goldman Sachs said in December that the top 30 employees would receive all of their year-end incentive pay in stock that they can’t sell for five years. Blankfein’s bonus, which he gets on top of his $600,000 salary, is subject to that restriction.

While a large portion of Goldman Sachs’s executive compensation has traditionally been in stock, they’ve also received cash awards.

Since 2002, when his pay was first disclosed in annual proxy filings, Blankfein has received a total of $111.6 million in salary and cash bonuses. Chief Financial Officer David Viniar has been granted $100.8 million in salary and cash bonuses since 1999, the year the firm went public, according to proxy filings.

Goldman Sachs also disclosed $9 million restricted-stock bonus awards today for Viniar, President Gary Cohn, and Vice Chairmen J. Michael Evans and John S. Weinberg.

Neither Cohn, 49, nor Viniar, 54, received bonuses for 2008. For 2007, Cohn was awarded a $66.9 million bonus in cash and stock, while Viniar received $56.9 million in cash and stock.

Goldman Sachs paid back the $10 billion it received in October 2008 from the U.S. Treasury on June 17; taxpayers earned $1.4 billion from dividends and a buyback of warrants that had been granted to the agency. Still, the firm benefited from government guarantees on about $30 billion of debt and from the Federal Reserve’s bailout of American International Group Inc., as well as the Fed’s decision to allow Goldman Sachs to become a bank holding company.

“Goldman has been portrayed as kind of the villain in this,” Sorrentino said. “They kind of have a target on their back.”

--With reporting by Elizabeth Hester in New York. Editors: Rick Green, Alec McCabe.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Harper in New York

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