Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), the fifth- largest U.S. bank by assets, said Stephen Friedman will retire from its board of directors on May 22.
Friedman, 75, who led the board’s risk committee, is leaving as required by the investment bank’s age-based retirement policy, according to a regulatory filing yesterday by the New York-based firm. Adebayo O. Ogunlesi, chairman of Global Infrastructure Partners who joined Goldman Sachs’s board in October, will head the risk committee.
“Steve has made invaluable contributions to Goldman Sachs over the last five decades,” Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein said in an e-mailed statement. “He’s been an outstanding director whose counsel and judgment we’ve depended on greatly.”
Friedman resigned as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2009 to avoid the appearance of a conflict over his ties to Goldman Sachs, which became a bank holding company and received Fed support in 2008. Blankfein, 58, rejected calls at the time to remove him from the bank’s board.
Friedman was hired by Goldman in 1966, rising to senior partner and co-chairman in 1990. He ran the firm alone from 1992 to 1994 after Robert Rubin left to join the Clinton administration. Friedman was previously in charge of the mergers unit and served as co-head of investment banking.
He joined Goldman’s board in 2005, and also served on the audit, compensation and nominating committees. His departure will leave the firm with 12 directors, nine of which are independent. The firm added Ogunlesi and Mark Edward Tucker, CEO of AIA Group Ltd. (1299), to the board in 2012 and the firm’s former CFO David Viniar joined this year.
Friedman’s decision to step down from his New York Fed position followed controversy about his role on Goldman Sachs’s board and purchases of the firm’s shares, which had been criticized by U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican. Friedman said at the time that he bought the shares “because I thought Goldman Sachs stock, under tangible net worth, was at a very attractive price.”
John H. Byran, the former chairman and CEO of Sara Lee Corp. who joined Goldman Sachs’s board six months after the company went public in May 1999, stepped down last year after reaching the age limit.
David Wells, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, declined to comment on whether the bank planned to replace Friedman.
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