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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Goldman shareholder ends meeting with a thank-you to Blankfein

UPDATE 12:40 p.m.:The final speaker of the day is the head of a nonprofit in the city that helps at-risk juveniles get quality education. She thanks Goldman for its support and Blankfein thanks her for "all that you do."

On that warm note, the meeting is adjourned. Blankfein shakes a few hands, and looks ready to head out, but is stopped by a shareholder. Again he tries to leave but is stopped by another shareholder. He shakes hands. And he is gone.

Goldman shareholder finally asks Blankfein about SEC charges

UPDATE 12:37 p.m.: Before the voting results were announced, Blankfein got a question from an individual shareholder: I came here to ask you one question -- has all this stuff that's been going on lately affected our business?

Blankfein: Always hard to tell. But It feels like on the whole, our business has held up quite well, due to the support we have gotten from our clients who have been loyal and enthusiastic. I know people don't like to read about their advisers in any context, let alone in the kind of headlines we've had lately.

Each of the 11 director nominees have received more than 95 percent of shares present.

Goldman shareholders' proposals fail

UPDATE 12:32 p.m.: About 1 in 5 Goldman shareholders vote for Chairman-CEO split.

The Q&A session is interrupted to announce the results of the shareholder votes. Bottom line: all five of the management proposals pass, all seven of the shareholder proposals fail.

But some of the shareholder proposals get quite a lot of votes. A shareholder proposal regarding cumulative voting gets 25 percent of vote. Another on over the country derivatives trading gets 34 percent. And a shareholder proposal to split the roles of chairman and chief executive -- currently Blankfein holds both titles-- receives 19 percent of the vote.

Another on executive compensation and long-term performance gets 25 percent.

Goldman's Blankfein draws laughs as he discusses pay disparity

UPDATE 12:09 p.m.: Next up is discussion on a shareholder proposal on pay disparity.

One young shareholder - he says he graduated from UPenn last year - is up. He speaks talks about the importance of pay and retaining talent. He speaks of going through the on-campus recruiting process and "dreaming" about one day sitting up there on stage with the firm's top executives.

"Some of the people there are dreaming of sitting over there," says Blankfein, gesturing first to Viniar, his CFO, and Greg Palm, the general counsel, and then gesturing to where the young man is sitting.

Blankfein gets another round of laughter.

Goldman shareholders raise questions about political contributions

UPDATE 11:45 a.m.: Another shareholder question is about requiring Goldman to make a report of political contributions beyond what is already required by the FEC.

Wall Street firms have received criticism, including from President Obama, about intense lobbying against aspects of the regulatory reform bill now being debated in Congress. Blankfein says Washington has been asking the firm to come down and "educate" lawmakers on the financial system and rules, and that it is the firm's right and duty to do so.

In an understatement, Blankfein adds that the recent marathon hearing in Washington before a Senate subcommittee was "not the most comfortable moment" in his life. Some laughter.

The hearing of course, was on the SEC civil fraud charges, which have been vigorously denied by the firm. So far into the meeting, no one has explicitly raised the SEC charges. But perhaps it will come up in the general question and answer period later.

Blankfein: Should he keep both chief executive and chairman posts?

UPDATE 11:30 am: One of the seven shareholder proposals up for a vote - and the most closely watched - is splitting the role of chairman and CEO. Corporate governance groups generally agree this is good practice. Last year, Ken Lewis, former head of Bank of America, was forced to give up his chairmanship after a shareholder vote.
Several shareholders get up to express support for the proposal. One gets up and notes Blankfein's leadership and Goldman's blockbuster profitability.

"He is doing a very good job. Goldman Sachs is doing very well for shareholders."

The crowd breaks out into applause. Blankfein is smiling. We will get the outcome of the voting later today.

Goldman's Blankfein tells supportive shareholder: You're not being helpful

UPDATE 11:00 am:

A shareholder takes the mic, saying he is disgusted by the liberal leftist commentary attacking Goldman, including religious leaders who have spoken so far at the meeting. He also mentions the Catholic church scandal.

Blankfein says, let's stick to the matters at hand.

Shareholder: "I just want to be supportive of the management."

Blankfein: "If you want to be supportive, you're not being helpful."

Perhaps Blankfein is getting hungry for lunch, but some may question his wisdom in shutting down one of the few shareholders expressing unfettered support for the firm here at the meeting.

Goldman by the numbers

UPDATE 10:40 a.m.: In response to a shareholder questions, Goldman says it has about 250 in-house full time lawyers, up by a few lawyers from the year before. The firm, which is also facing a number of shareholder lawsuits in addition to the SEC lawsuit, spent $593 million in legal fees, roughly half of it on outside counsel.

Blankfein Likes Shopping at Wal-Mart

UPDATE 10:30 a.m.: Evelyn Y. Davis is up at the podium again. She is asking about lobbying expenses, and after some rambling, suggests Blankfein and his wife likely don't shop at Wal-Mart.
"Actually, I like shopping at Wal-Mart," says Blankfein, managing to get a few words in edgewise.

Laughter.

Board diversity questioned

UPDATE 10:20 a.m.: Timothy Smith of Walden Asset Management, an activist shareholder on social issues, asks about board diversity.

Blankfein acknowledges the board looks "less diverse than we did a few weeks ago," a likely reference to Ruth Simmons, of Brown University, who is resigning from the board.

Quiet plea from Jesse Jackson

UPDATE 10:15 a.m.: Blankfein is his usual soft-spoken self as he responds to comments from Jesse Jackson, who stood patiently in line for his turn to speak.

Jackson is quietly expressing his concern about the gap in the health of Wall Street versus Main Street. He wants more Main Street representation on the board. Blankfein, equally soft-spoken and dressed in a dark suit with red tie, says Goldman's health is intricately tied to overall performance of the economy.

Gadfly investor Evelyn Y. Davis takes the podium

UPDATE 9:50 a.m.: After a brief presentation by David Viniar, the chief financial officer, the floor is opened to shareholder comments. First up is Evelyn Y. Davis, the shareholder gadfly who is a fixture at these meetings.

She says the situation Goldman finds itself in now would "never have happened if Hank were still here."

Hank, of course, refers to Henry Paulson, the former Treasury secretary and former CEO of Goldman. Davis gets right to the point, saying she is voting against all of the directors and telling Blankfein he has until Monday to tender his resignation.

"Evelyn, I have no current plans to step down Monday," Blankfein says.

Goldman has set up Business Standards Committee

UPDATE 9:45 a.m.: Blankfein promises a comprehensive review of all of Goldman's businesses, saying the firm has established a Business Standards Committee to do this.

Shareholder meeting gets underway with protesters outside

UPDATE: 9:33 a.m. So here we are at the Goldman shareholders meeting in southernmost tip of Lower Manhattan. Security is tight.

Outside, there are almost as many police officers as protesters. About two dozen are holding up signs such as "Transparency Now" and "Stop hiding the Money."

Inside, the meeting has just been called to order by chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, who is introducing directors, senior management and auditor.

8:22 a.m.: Goldman Sachs, the embattled New York investment bank, is hosting its annual shareholder meeting this morning. Executives are expected to face questioning from shareholders on a range of issues, including the firm's compensation practice, its actions during the financial crisis and of course, the fraud charges filed against the firm by the Securities and Exchange Commission. We'll be live blogging the event shortly before the meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. in Lower Manhattan.

-Tomoeh Murakami Tse

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By Sarah Halzack  |  May 7, 2010; 12:42 PM ET
Categories:  Wall Street  
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Next: Two-day stock massacre: Thursday, Friday losses wipe out all of 2010's gains

Comments


Goldman Sachs was the #2 campaign contributor to Barry the incompetent boob Obama's presidential campaign, to the tune of $994,795.

One million dollars. Has Barry given back any of the money yet?

Posted by: screwjob11 | May 7, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I trust promises from Goldman Sach's CEO as far as I can spit. I hope they throw the book at them and jail these crooks, or even better execute them like they would in the PRC for corruption.

Posted by: kerryberger | May 7, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Great!! Goldman is hiring more lawyers!!!

That may explain the number of jobs "saved or created" last month.

Posted by: tropicalfolk | May 7, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I don't shop at Wal Mart and never will sending more jobs from here to China. I would tell anyone shopping there why do you love money more than America. Pretty obvious to most Americans the Wall St. titans certainly do with S&P getting half it's income from overseas (outsourcing). If I had my way they would be all jailed for treason.

Posted by: jameschirico | May 7, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

The Center for Responsive Politics ranks BP as one of the top donors to political campaigns over the twenty years having given in excess of $6 million to congressional and presidential campaigns. The ten biggest recipients of BP contributions still in Congress are Rep. Don Young ($73,300), Sen. John McCain ($44,899), Sen. George Voinovich ($41,400), Rep. John Dingell ($31,000), Sen. Mary Landrieu ($28,200), Rep. Joe Barton ($27,350), Sen. Jim Inhofe ($22,300), Sen. Mitch McConnell ($22,000), Rep. John Culberson ($20,950) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison ($19,500).

BP has focused a good portion of their campaign contributions on the House Committee on Energy & Commerce. The committee is scheduled to begin hearings on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Wednesday. Since 1989, BP has contributed a total of $195,550 to the current 51 members of the committee. Rep. Barton is the ranking member of the committee. Rep. Dingell is chairman emeritus and was recently deposed as chairman by Rep. Henry Waxman. Other top recipients include Rep. Ralph Hall ($14,500), Rep. Fred Upton ($13,100) and Rep. Roy Blunt ($12,500).

While BP made investments in Congress with their wide reach of contributions, some lawmakers made investments in BP. At least 17 lawmakers reported holding stock in BP in their most recent personal financial disclosure filings. Rep. James Sensenbrenner holds the largest amount of stock in BP with a value between $100,001 and $250,000. One member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, Rep. Upton, also holds stock in BP valued between $16,002 and $65,000.

The lobbying team assembled by BP also provides the company with reach into both Congress and executive branch. Twenty-five of the thirty-seven lobbyists listed in 2010 first quarter lobbying disclosures as being hired by BP have previous government experience. This includes two former top aides to Sen. Landrieu, a former aide to the Energy & Commerce Committee, former congressman Jim Turner and 15 others with congressional experience.

The former Energy & Commerce Committee staffer, Courtney Johnson, was listed as the host for two fundraisers over last year, according to the Party Time database. One was for Rep. Dingell, the former Energy & Commerce chairman. The other was for the political action committee of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a lawmaker close to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Prolific Democratic fundraiser Tony Podesta is listed as a lobbyist for BP. Podesta is listed as hosting eighteen fundraisers since the beginning of the 111th Congress.

Other congressman who have had held fundraisers hosted by lobbyists hired by BP since the beginning of 2009 include Rep. Walt Minnick, Sen. Jim Inhofe, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (twice), Rep. Barbara Lee, Sen. John Thune, Rep. Kay Granger, Sen. Richard Burr, Rep. Glenn Nye (twice) and Rep. Dennis Moore.

Posted by: francinelast | May 7, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

These things are very telling and deeply disturbing:

- None of the shareholders asked about the SEC charges.
- One shareholder praised Blankfein's leadership because it made the firm, and him as stockholder, lots of money.
- Only ONE shareholder denounced Blankfein.

Shareholders are just as complicit in the business practices as Blankfein and the rest of the Executives on the board because they either agree with them because it lines their pockets, or they don’t agree but don’t bother to speak out.

Nothing will voluntarily change at these places because vicious, overwhelming greed is rampant from the chairman to the smallest stockholder.

And what’s even more chilling:
- One college kid wants to BE one of the Executives.
The next generation of greedy, grasping CEO’s is on its way up.

The non-regulated future is looking dimmer all the time.

Posted by: Zarina1 | May 7, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

-Lloyd C. Blankfein took the stage Friday at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s (GS) annual meeting, pledging to rebuild the investment bank's reputation after it was tarnished by government civil charges of securities fraud. ...

good lord ... does the propaganda ever end ... it was tarnished by the civil charges of securities fraud ... it was tarnished long ago ... we are getting data that supports the point of view that this vampire squid needs to be broken apart.

the capital class controls too much of what is allowed to occur within this nation.

the media is purchased AFRAID to report the truth. any one who asks a question is branded a conspiracy kook.

Our political class has been purchased by the capital class ... an threat of congressional intervention is thwarted with OUTRAGEOUS propaganda of compromise.

we did not have a fat finger incident yesterday. we almost got a vote to a full audit on the fed ... a vote ... just to bring it to a vote is a threat to our overlords.

wake up ... this is not fantasy. you are owned. free to do as you are told.

Posted by: AmericanSpirit | May 7, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

in a dark suit with red tie, says Goldman's health is intricately tied to overall performance of the economy.

was that a threat ?

Posted by: AmericanSpirit | May 7, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: itkonlyyou48 | May 7, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

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