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Goldman Sachs Op-Ed Unlikely To Affect Firm's Bottom Line

Goldman Sachs Under Fire Again

First Posted: 03/14/2012 8:33 pm Updated: 03/15/2012 6:10 pm

For those wondering whether the bad press that has plagued Goldman Sachs in recent weeks is likely to affect the firm's bottom-line, industry insiders say probably not.

On Wednesday, The New York Times published an explosive op-ed by a Goldman Sachs executive named Greg Smith, who accused the firm of fostering a culture that consistently places its own interests above those of its clients. “I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it,” Smith wrote. “To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money.”

That op-ed comes just a few weeks after the Times reported that the firm had positioned itself on both sides of a merger it served as financial advisor on – telling one company to accept a takeover offer from another company in which Goldman had a stake.

The recent press has been so bad that after the op-ed ran on Wednesday, Forbes demanded the ouster of the firm's longtime CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

But some of those who follow the bank closely said the headache is likely to be little more than that.

The problem, according to Bove and others, is that Goldman Sachs, despite its increasingly bad reputation on Main Street, is still something of a gatekeeper in the financial world. The firm remains a marquee name with access to some of the most lucrative deals on Wall Street.

"If Goldman Sachs comes along with some big deal… how can you just walk away from the firm?" said Marc Pado, an investment advisor at DowBull who previously worked at the bond trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald. "[Goldman Sachs] clients have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to get the best value. They’re going to say 'we really don’t care about this. We know Goldman is going to get [us] the best price."

That sentiment echoes a point Goldman clients have made in response to the Times op-ed on Wednesday. As Forbes reported, in an email circulated after the op-ed ran, Whitney Tilson, Managing Partner of hedge fund T2 Partners, (which is both an client of and an investor in Goldman) wrote " Our investment thesis on Goldman is simple: when all the dust settles, it will remain the premier investment banking franchise in the world.”

Goldman, for its part, responded to Smith's condemnation in an internal email, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. "We were disappointed to read the assertions made by this individual that do not reflect our values, our culture and how the vast majority of people at Goldman Sachs think about the firm and the work it does on behalf of our clients," Blankfein wrote his employees.

As for the question of Blankfein's fate, Forbes'€™ call for his ouster came on the heels of earlier reports that his departure was already in the works and could happen as early as this summer.

Bove, however, thinks otherwise. "If they fire him, Goldman will look like the'€™re admitting that this article is correct," he said.

Greg Smith is "€œgiving Mr. Blankfein a longer term in his job."

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