Goldman's Blankfein collects $9 million bonus

By David Ellis, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Goldman Sachs stunned many in the Wall Street community Friday by awarding chief executive Lloyd Blankfein $9 million as his year-end bonus, far less than many were anticipating, and none of it in cash.

Following weeks of speculation about what the top executive at Wall Street's leading investment bank would take home as his discretionary pay for 2009, the company revealed in a securities filing it was paying Blankfein 58,381 shares of company restricted stock.

blankfein_090211.03.jpg
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein

Using Friday's closing stock price of $154.16 would leave Blankfein with the roughly $9 million figure. As part of his compensation, he would not be able to sell those shares for several years.

Blankfein will also receive no cash as part of his year-end reward. In December, the company announced its 30-member management committee had declined to accept any cash bonuses for the year, amid public outrage over Wall Street bonuses.

Still, the overall number was far below what many were anticipating in a year in which Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) earned a whopping $13.4 billion.

"It's shocking," said Alan Johnson of compensation consultancy firm Johnson Associates, who had anticipated a payout of closer to $40 million for Goldman's CEO.

Blankfein's payout also represents a big departure from what the nearly $68 million bonus in restricted stock, options and cash he earned before the crisis hit in 2007. In 2008, he declined a bonus altogether.

There has also been recent speculation however that Goldman executives might thumb their nose at critics by doling out record stock-based payouts to its leading executives. One estimate floated earlier this week by the Times of London suggested that Blankfein's bonus could have approached $100 million.

Goldman also revealed Friday it delivered similar-sized bonuses to several of its other top executives. David Viniar, the company's chief financial officer, and Gary Cohn, Goldman's chief operating officer, also received $9 million in restricted stock each.

The revelation of bonuses for Goldman's top executives comes just hours after JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) revealed year-end payments for its own members of management. Company CEO Jamie Dimon was awarded a $16 million bonus for his efforts last year, all in the form of restricted stock and options.

What will prove tricky, notes Johnson, is how Goldman tries to navigate bringing pay levels back up again, particularly as the company is expected to earn less in the current fiscal year than it did in 2009.

"The key thing is this really sustainable going forward?" he said. "Where do you go from here?" To top of page

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