Ahead of the Bell: Goldman Sachs

Nomura analyst predicts smooth CFO transition at Goldman Sachs as CFO retires

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- While the retiring chief financial officer of Goldman Sachs will be tough to replace, a Nomura analyst on Wednesday said that he expects a smooth transition.

Goldman said late Tuesday that David Viniar, 57, is stepping down after 32 years with Goldman, the last 12 as CFO. Harvey Schwartz, 48, will replace him at the end of January. After Viniar leaves the post, he will join Goldman's board as a non-independent director.

Schwartz served most recently as the global co-head of Goldman's securities division. He joined the firm as a vice president in 1997, became a managing director in 1999, and was named partner in 2002.

Analyst Glenn Schorr, who backed his "Buy" rating and $125 price target for Goldman stock, said that while it's never a good time for a person with such a long tenure to step down, the move has been in the works for about five years.

"David was instrumental in navigating Goldman Sachs through the financial crisis and into a much more financially sound company today, and thus, this is as good of a time as any for David to pass the baton," Schorr said pointing to the investment bank's balance sheet improvements over the past few years.

"While we believe Harvey has some big shoes to fill as the new CFO, Harvey can rely on a deep bench of talent at the firm (and Viniar will be staying on as a board member), and we expect the management transition to go smoothly."

Goldman, which is based in New York, said Viniar is the longest-serving chief financial officer of a major Wall Street financial institution.

He joined Goldman in 1980 in the investment banking division. He assumed responsibility for the firm's financing activities in the treasury department in 1992 and for the controllers department in 1994. From 1998 until 1999, Viniar was deputy CFO.

Before becoming global co-head of Goldman's securities division, Schwartz was global head of the division's sales operations. Before that, he was co-head of the Americas financing group within Goldman's investment banking business, which centralizes financing-related advice, origination and execution for clients.

Goldman shares closed Tuesday trading at $119.88, and slipped 13 cents in premarket trading.

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