(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Solomon is safe in his role for now, according to prominent banking analyst Mike Mayo.
The Wells Fargo & Co. analyst addressed the question of Solomon’s future in a note following a meeting with Adebayo Ogunlesi, the lead director on Goldman’s board. Solomon has been contending with growing criticism from his colleagues this year as the firm backed away from a botched expansion into consumer banking and earnings fell in its core investment bank.
“Our meeting with the board’s lead director leads us to conclude that the CEO will stay in his role for at least the medium term,” Mayo wrote in the note. “We agree with his view that the strategy is now on course, and it comes down to execution.”
Mayo said that Ogunlesi acknowledged that, in hindsight, the board could have done better regarding consumer lending and the pace of divesting balance-sheet investments, and moved faster on third-party fundraising. And while turnover is the norm, Goldman lost some partners it wanted to keep due to disagreements, the analyst wrote.
He’d been agitating for Ogunlesi to speak up, saying earlier this year that the former investment banker and current head of Global Infrastructure Partners needed to address the board’s support of Solomon.
Like most of his peers, the analyst holds an overweight rating on Goldman shares. While Goldman shares are little-changed this year, they’re outpacing much of the banking sector, which is still reeling from the regional-lender tumult earlier this year. But Goldman shares have underperformed prominent rivals JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley.
“Our conclusion is that the CEO is not going anywhere anytime soon,” Mayo wrote in the note late Monday. “The main items to watch are execution and what GS will look like in its end-state post dispositions (earnings, returns, volatility), which seem to be holding back the stock.”
--With assistance from Sridhar Natarajan.
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