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27th April 2012

Blankfein PR offensive

Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs gave TV interviews with both CNBC and Bloomberg, the first public interviews since 2010.


He said in both interviews he had no plans to step down or separate the chairman and chief executive positions. He also admitted the bank "had not got everything right in how we deal with the public" and as a consequence “We’re going to have to do a better job ... in getting out there and telling people how important this industry is.”


Regarding the resignation letter by Greg Smith sent to the New York Times Blankfein claims that he was shocked at the allegations and that a review of emails failed to find support for the allegations made. He said,"We had 30,000 people who felt the opposite and clients who were unbelievably supportive," Blankfein said. "It didn't undo the damage and the shock to the wider public but we certainly were buoyed by the response that we got from our clients and our investors and our people of Goldman Sachs."


Smith claimed that executives in the London office had no respect for their clients and talked only of how much money they could extract from them. His letter referred to the Goldman Sachs employees referring to their clients as'muppets'. For the non-British this is a term suggesting stupid, silly or simple-minded.


Following the banking crisis some comments by Blankfein were certainly not helpful towards his bank or to the banking sector more generally. That, plus the fact that Goldman was generally considered the largest and most successful investment bank led to much campaigning against the bank.


The interviews are thought to be part of a new communications strategy. Recently Jake Siewert took over as head of communications. He has relevant experience with past clients including former US President Bill Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky scandal and Tim Geithner, Treasury secretary who also had problems with the media when first appointed. Blankfein was still unrepentant on certain matters. When pressed on the many occasions Goldman Sachs has been accused of conflicts of interest he replied, “If you want to rule out conflicts of interest you’ll just give advice to maybe one company, never give lending, never give capital support."