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Morning Coffee: Goldman Sachs' president threatened to leave, was told he might be CEO if he stayed. What Citi said to its bankers about drinking with clients

An AI simulation of John Waldron sipping coffee in the quiet

There's a rule in banking that if you threaten to leave your job and are promised impressive things to stay, you should probably leave anyway. Accepting a counteroffer almost never works out. 

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John Waldron, Goldman Sachs' president and COO may now be finding this true, to his detriment. More than a year ago, the Wall Street Journal reports that Waldron was one of the many people approached by Carlyle to become its chief executive (a role ultimately taken by Harvey Schwartz, another ex-Goldman COO). Waldron, who is a risk-averse family man, was taken by Carlyle's offer and informed senior people that he was in discussions with the investment firm. They persuaded him to give it a pass, reportedly saying that if he stayed at Goldman, he had a chance of becoming CEO himself and replacing David Solomon.

That was sometime in 2022. Now, in earlier 2024, Waldron's chance of becoming CEO seems to be fading. At one point, the WSJ says he was expected to takeover from Solomon sometime this year. But Solomon is resurgent, and is weakening Waldron's hand.

The WSJ reports that Waldron has been dethroned in the seat of his power: the Goldman Sachs operating committee. As COO, this was something that Waldron ran, but in December it was replaced by a new committee, run by Solomon himself. Waldron still plays a role there, but he's not the head. Solomon has also reportedly made it clear that he doesn't plan to go anywhere, and is taking a more active role in running the firm.

Goldman itself denies that anything is afoot. A spokesman informed the WSJ that "nothing has changed" between Waldron and Solomon. But the WSJ says Waldron has various competitors for the top job, including Marc Nachmann, Dan Dees and Ashok Varadhan, all of whom look stronger than before and whose stars have risen since Waldron intimated that he might leave, and then didn't.

Separately, Bloomberg reports that Citi gathered all its bankers, from analysts to managing directors, on a call and told them not to drink too much at client events. 

The summons reportedly followed complaints of unruly behaviour in the midst of clients. Citi isn't banning its people from drinking entirely, just from drinking too much and getting rowdy. They may want to channel Christine Lagarde, who is practiced at raising a glass to her lips and ingesting nothing at all. 


Lazard closed its Bejing office and Rothschild closed its Shanghai team. (Republic World) 

Morgan Stanley bankers are accused of snobbery over their refusal to work Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct. (The Times)  

The Institut International d’Etudes Bancaires is the most exclusive and secretive networking club in European finance. (Financial Times) 

The London arm of Russian bank VTB paid 16 UK staff £6.6m in 2023, nearly two years after it collapsed. (Financial News) 

Millennium hired Index options trader Doug Schadewald from Jane Street. (Business Insider)  

A computer science major sent 456 applications for one internship. (Daily Mail) 

Mohammed Zina, an analyst who worked in the Conflicts Resolution Group at Goldman Sachs, is accused of insider trading. He says he didn't know he was an insider. (Bloomberg)  

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available (Telegram: @SarahButcher)

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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