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Macaskill on markets: JPMorgan’s Spinal Tap problem

The smooth chief executive transition at Goldman Sachs will increase scrutiny on the potential succession to Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan.


The handover of power at Goldman Sachs came slightly earlier than billed, with David Solomon due to replace veteran chief executive Lloyd Blankfein on October 1, rather than the year-end shift that had been widely expected.

This small element of surprise only served to accentuate the smoothness of the transition at the top at Goldman, which proceeded at a carefully choreographed pace.

First there was the real decision taken internally at the bank, as Solomon defeated his rival Harvey Schwartz for the right to succeed Blankfein.

Along with details of this news came placement of articles extolling Solomon’s virtues and emphasising what a well-rounded, thoroughly modern manager he is – a team player with a human side.

Before the succession battle was decided, Goldman’s media operation had been fairly even-handed in supporting features that presented Schwartz in an attractive light and contrasted his scrappy background and nature to the more privileged and urbane Solomon.

After all, the decision was no foregone conclusion, given the support for Schwartz in the securities division at Goldman that once provided the bulk of its earnings and had propelled Blankfein to the top seat in 2006.

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