John S. Weinberg, a top Goldman Sachs Group Inc. dealmaker whose family has helped run the 146-year-old firm for most of its existence, is retiring.
Weinberg, one of three vice chairmen at the bank, will become a senior director, Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and President Gary Cohn said Monday in a memo to employees of the New York-based company.
Weinberg, 58, a son and grandson of men who led the firm for more than half a century, has spent 32 years there. He served as co-head of the investment banking division for 12 years and maintained relationships with companies including Ford Motor Co., General Electric Co. and Boeing Co.
“John was responsible for many of our most important clients,” the executives wrote in the memo. “His advice and counsel have been deeply valued by corporate leaders across industries.”
An employee at the firm since a business-school internship, Weinberg built a reputation as a fierce defender of the firm’s culture. He took a lead in repairing connections with clients after the financial crisis.
His grandfather Sidney ran the bank from the Great Depression until 1969, and his father, John L. Weinberg, served as a senior partner and chairman from 1976 to 1990. His uncle, Sidney J. Weinberg Jr., who went by Jim, was a partner who was affiliated with Goldman Sachs for 45 years, and his cousin Peter was a banker at the firm until leaving in 2005 to start his own advisory boutique.
Voice of Restraint
John S. Weinberg started when his father led a firm of around 3,000 employees that remained private and refused to advise on the era’s hostile takeovers. In 1999, the company followed rivals in going public and now has more than 30,000 employees. Weinberg is now one of the bank’s largest individual shareholders, amassing equity worth more than $230 million.
As trading became a larger portion of Goldman Sachs’s profit and the firm expanded in areas such as principal investments that occasionally placed it in conflict with traditional clients, Weinberg was a voice of restraint, according to former and current colleagues.
That was somewhat dictated by his role. The bulk of his three decades were spent in investment banking, with a brief break in the 1980s to help establish a fledging mortgage securities department. In 1997, he became co-head of investment banking services, which manages client relationships, before taking the helm of the division in 2002.
He continued to advise specific clients, such as DuPont Co., and work on individual deals such as the initial public offerings of Under Armour Inc. in 2005 and Visa Inc. in 2008, which was then the largest U.S. IPO.
“He has been a champion and great partner for many years,” Mark Fields, Ford’s CEO, said in an e-mailed statement. “We appreciate all of the support he has given us, wish him all the best and look forward to the opportunity to work with him again in the future.”
Weinberg’s job also included working to retain clients as a regulatory settlement and Congressional inquiry hit the bank’s reputation after the financial crisis. Most stayed, as Goldman Sachs was the top-ranked merger adviser and equity underwriter last year, and in the first quarter of 2015 produced the most investment-banking revenue among global firms.
“I probably met with more clients over that two-year period than I’d ever done in my career,” he said in an interview last year. “And I wouldn’t just meet with clients who liked us. The way I think about my role, I have to run to the trouble.”