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Blankfein Prepares to Exit Goldman, WSJ Reports

The CEO of Goldman Sachs could be stepping down as early as the end of 2018.

Goldman Sachs Group’s chief executive officer Lloyd Blankfein could step down as early as this year’s end, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. 

Blankfein, who has been Goldman’s CEO and chairman for roughly 12 years, has long been rumored to be considering his retirement prospects. 

Blankfein, 63, was diagnosed with lymphoma, which Goldman disclosed to investors in September 2015. Goldman then named Harvey Schwartz and David Solomon as co-presidents and co–chief operating officers in December 2016, increasing speculation that Blankfein could be stepping down. 

"It's the @WSJ's announcement...not mine," Blankfein said in a March 9 tweet. "I feel like Huck Finn listening to his own eulogy."

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The firm’s financials could also play a role in speculation about the CEO's retirement planning. Although Goldman’s wealth and asset management unit generated record net revenues in 2017, its 2017 net income of $4.3 billion fell by more than 40 percent compared to its 2016 earnings. 

Leslie Shribman, Goldman’s vice president of media relations, declined to comment on the matter. 

According to the WSJ, the current thinking is that Blankfein will leave either ahead of or early into the company’s 150th anniversary year in 2019. Solomon and Schwartz are reportedly the top candidates for Blankfein’s position.

Blankfein has worked for Goldman Sachs since 1982, after spending four years in law practice. He initially joined Goldman’s commodities trading arm, and after 12 years, he was promoted to co-head of the currency and commodities division. 

He rose through the ranks, taking on the role of vice chairman, overseeing the fixed income, currency, and commodities division and the equities division, according to the firm’s website.

Blankfein then became Goldman’s president and chief operating officer, before taking over for Henry Paulson in 2006.

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