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EXCLUSIVE - Goldman Vice Chairman Evans to retire at year's end - memo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYS:GS - News) Vice Chairman J. Michael Evans will retire from his position at year's end and become a senior director, according to an internal memo viewed by Reuters.

Evans, 56, one of the most senior executives at Wall Street's biggest investment bank, is global head of growth markets and played a key role in Goldman's expansion into Asia. He was one of several executives said to be in the running to replace Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein when he eventually retires.

"Michael's commitment to the firm, his focus on our clients and his deep, global market knowledge have left an extraordinary record of contribution," Blankfein and Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn said in the memo, whose contents were confirmed by spokesman David Wells.

(Reporting by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)