(Bloomberg News) Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said two leaders of its biggest division are leaving the company a week before it reports what some analysts predict will be the lowest annual profit since the firm went public.
Edward K. Eisler, 42, and David B. Heller, 44, are retiring from the company, where they helped lead the securities trading division since February 2008, according to two internal memos obtained by Bloomberg News yesterday. Eisler, an Austrian based in London, joined the bank 18 years ago and has a background trading interest-rate products, currencies and commodities. Heller, a U.S. citizen who lives in New York, spent more than 22 years at the firm, mainly in equities and equity derivatives.
Goldman Sachs, the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets, derived more than 60 percent of its revenue from trading in the first nine months of last year. The business is contracting as investors become more cautious and regulators demand banks hold more capital and curb proprietary bets, leading Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein, 57, to cut jobs and other expenses.
"This is not as appealing a sector to work in for the time-being," Roger Freeman, an analyst at Barclays Capital in New York who has an "equal-weight" rating on Goldman Sachs, said in a phone interview. For executives like Eisler and Heller who already have accumulated wealth "this could be a great time to just take a few years off, spend it with your kids, and you're not missing anything."
The departures will add to speculation about succession plans at the top of New York-based Goldman Sachs, where Blankfein has held the chairman and CEO roles since mid-2006. Heller sometimes is brought up as a possible future CEO, even as president and chief operating officer Gary D. Cohn, 51, Blankfein's top deputy, continues to be the leading candidate.
Isabelle Ealet, 48, the bank's London-based global head of commodities since 2007, will become one of three co-heads of the securities division alongside Pablo J. Salame, 45, and Harvey M. Schwartz, 47, according to another internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News. Michael DuVally, a spokesman for the company, confirmed the memos' contents and declined to comment further.
Ealet, a French citizen who started at Goldman Sachs as an oil trader in 1991, already is a member of the management committee and will continue to be based in London. As the only woman on Goldman Sachs's management committee to oversee a revenue-producing unit, she's one of the most powerful women working at a Wall Street firm. She started her Goldman Sachs career at the commodities trading division J. Aron, as did Blankfein and Cohn.
Schwartz also started in Goldman Sachs's commodities division, joining in 1997. A New Jersey native based in New York, Schwartz helped run fixed-income sales and the financing group before taking his current role. In October 2010, Schwartz donated $1.5 million to Rutgers University, from which he graduated in 1987.
Ealet and Schwartz are close to Cohn, according to former Goldman Sachs employees.