David Solomon named sole president at Goldman

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That decision, embraced by the board that Wednesday, has now officially set in motion one of the most closely watched successions in global finance.

On Monday morning Goldman announced that Mr Schwartz would leave the bank after a 20-year career, mostly in the securities division. The job is, in effect, now Solomon's to lose. In an interview during Fortune's Most Powerful Women conference last October, where host Pattie Sellers called Solomon the firm's "culture guy", he said the firm had made progress on gender diversity in the firm's ranks, "but we've still got a long way to go - a long, long way to go".

The question of Blankfein's successor has been a topic of debate across the financial industry since Friday, when the Wall Street Journal reported that the CEO would step down as early as this year. In a November tweet he said: "So much at stake, why not make sure consensus still there?"

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In the bank's statement, Blankfein thanked Schwartz for his work at the firm. And when Solomon and Schwartz were promoted to president and co-COO in late 2016, days after Gary Cohn, who had been Blankfein's right-hand man, accepted a role leading the White House's National Economic Council, it was seen as a sign that the two were the leading contenders to take the CEO seat when Blankfein stepped down.

The competition has been a favorite topic of conversation within the halls of its Manhattan headquarters, with one executive saying it distracted from day-to-day business. Goldman's shares closed up just under 1 percent. He and Solomon were named co-COO in December 2016 in a setup that appeared to pit the two against each other to eventually lead what is viewed as the most powerful U.S. investment bank. The firm's fixed-income trading business, which produced Schwartz, is coming off its worst year in more than a decade.

Analysts said the timing of the official announcement came as a surprise, but ended speculation that the bank could name two people to run the firm as co-CEOs or cochairmen, which it has done in the past, and signaled to Wall Street that Solomon was the clear heir apparent. The business now ranks among the largest lenders to M&A buyers, and it reported record revenue a year ago.

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