Goldman Sachs Asset Management Chairman Jim O’Neill to Retire

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist Jim O’Neill, who bound Brazil to Russia, India and China to form the BRIC investing strategy, will retire this year.

O’Neill, 55, will step down from his current role as chairman of the asset-management division, which he has held since 2010, the New York-based firm said yesterday in a statement. He joined the company in 1995 as a partner, became head of global economics, commodities and strategy research in 2001 and was added to the European management committee in 2006.

“In each of his roles at the firm, Jim has served our clients by formulating views on global economic and market themes and helping them to be positioned for the most significant investment opportunities,” Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein and President Gary D. Cohn wrote in the statement.

O’Neill, who is based in London, said in an e-mail he hasn’t decided what he’ll do when he leaves Goldman Sachs.

Tim O’Neill and Eric Lane will continue to co-head the asset-management division, and there are no plans to replace O’Neill as chairman, Andrea Raphael, a Goldman Sachs spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. The position was created for him when he joined the unit, she said.

O’Neill developed the BRICs theory following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, after becoming Goldman Sachs’s sole chief economist, to reflect the waning influence of the U.S. on the world’s economy. In the years afterward, it was central to Goldman Sachs’s economic outlook.

Manchester Fan

He is a frequent commentator for media outlets, appearing on Bloomberg Television and CNBC. An Englishman who is the son of a postman and graduated from Sheffield University, he has also worked for Bank of America Corp.

Before joining Goldman Sachs, O’Neill was head of global research for Swiss Bank Corp., a firm he joined in 1988, according to his biography. That company bought S.G. Warburg & Co., the advisory firm founded by Siegmund Warburg, in 1995, before joining with Union Bank of Switzerland to form UBS AG in a deal completed in 1998.

A lifelong fan of Manchester United, the most successful soccer club in the U.K., O’Neill once sat on its board and later was part of a group considering making a takeover bid.

O’Neill recently published a book entitled “The Growth Map: Economic Opportunity in the BRICs and Beyond.” It updated and expanded his theory that the BRIC nations would join the U.S. and Japan as the world’s biggest economies by 2050.

‘Extremely Overvalued’

So popular has the BRIC term become that its leaders now meet for annual summits alongside South Africa. O’Neill remained a defender of the theory even as the economies slowed and the membership of Russia was questioned by some because of governance concerns.

In his current role, O’Neill publishes a regular report to clients, combining views on the global economic outlook with details of his travels and commentary on Manchester United’s performances.

His most recent report, released Jan. 25, cited “considerable evidence” that economies are improving around the world and suggested the yen is “extremely overvalued.”

He told Bloomberg Television in October that he didn’t apply to replace Mervyn King as the next governor of the Bank of England, saying he didn’t think it was “appropriate.”

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