John Mack’s record for the biggest bonus ever paid to a Wall Street chief executive didn’t last even a week. It was smashed by the $53.4 million that Goldman Sachs gave its chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein.
The bonanza for Blankfein included a cash bonus of $27.3 million, with the rest paid in stock and options. He took the helm of the investment bank in June after President Bush nominated Henry Paulson to be Treasury secretary.
The record payday, disclosed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, breaks the one set just last Thursday when Morgan Stanley disclosed that it paid CEO Mack $40 million in stock and options. Mack, who is 62, rejoined Morgan Stanley 18 months ago to turn around the company after the ouster of Philip Purcell. Mack’s short-lived record bested one set in 2005 by Goldman’s Paulson, who was given $38.3 million.
Blankfein’s bonus reflects the street’s — and Goldman’s — very profitable results this year, Worth magazine Editor in Chief Dwight Cass said.
“Blankfein’s traders — his background is trading, not investment banking — were the main drivers behind Goldman’s increase,” Cass said. “But this was an easy year to make money. Markets rallied, volatility was low, LBO (leveraged buyouts) deals kept the debt markets roiling, hedge funds continued to make prime brokerage a big winner.”
Other than Blankfein, 11 other senior Goldman executives as a group were granted slightly more than $150 million in shares and stock options, according to filings submitted by the companies to the Securites and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. The highest paid among those were Gary Cohn and Jon Winkelried, who both hold the titles of president and chief operating officer. They each received $25.6 million in shares and options in 2006.
Any cash bonuses for the other executives were not mentioned in the filings.
The bonuses come after Goldman reported last week that it had earned the highest yearly profit in the history of Wall Street. Net profit rose 70 percent to $9.4 billion on revenue of $37.67 billion. Goldman and other firms have benefitted from a surging market for takeovers and a strong stock market.
Goldman said last week it had set aside a total of $16.5 billion this year for salaries, bonuses and benefits. On average, this would translate to $622,000 per employee.
The bonuses come in a year in which Goldman shareholders have benefitted from a rise of about 58 percent in the company’s share price, the strongest returns of any Wall Street investment house.
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos. have said they would pay about $12 billion in compensation each. Lehman said last week it paid its chief executive, Richard Fuld, $10.9 million in stock this year.
The trend in compensating executives has been to keep salaries level while increasing bonuses. The highest-paid executives in the country earned 48.2 percent more in bonuses and 31.2 percent more in cash, according to the Executive Compensation Index done by ERI Economic Research Institute and CareerJournal.com as of last month. It compared year-over-year numbers, and in the same period, salaries fell by 0.31 percent.
Shares of Goldman rose 13 cents, or 0.06 percent, to close at 201.37 on the New York Stock Exchange.