Goldman Sachs can not catch a break. Just when the firm thought it was beginning to put the bad press associated with its settled SEC suit behind it, its fellow investment banks say that the alleged squid on the Street is to blame for their inability to charge General Motors an arm and three legs to underwrite the big automaker's IPO. That is, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley, the firms chosen to advise on the offering, say that when Goldman Sachs made its failed pitch to GM awhile back in the pageant to win GM's fancy, the bank had proposed a fee of 0.75 percent, severely less than the industry's going rate of 3 percent, thus opening the door for GM to limit the Morgans' fees when it picked the two as winners.
As for the possible reasons for Goldman undercutting its competitors, I like this one best (posed by Bloomberg Chief Financial Correspondent Christine Harper; which, if true, is an incredibly smooth maneuver): Goldman, which has for more than 50 years served as Ford Motor Company's main investment banking adviser (Goldman underwrote Ford's IPO in 1956), knew it had little chance of winning the GM mandate, due to its relationship with Ford, and so it low-balled competitors, ruining an otherwise monstrous payday for the likes of J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley.
Speaking of (almost) smooth maneuvers, this past Friday ("a nice sleepy August Friday," according to Bloomberg's Harper), Goldman Sachs top brass, including CEO Lloyd I Ain't Firing Blankfein and President Gary Snow Cohn, cashed in some 10-year-old stock options, banking several million dollars: Blankfein made about $6 million and Cohn pulled down $5 million.
At a glance, these successful calls might seem like decent sums of cash, even for top bankers, but when compared to the $500 million in Goldman stock Blankfein still owns, and $300 million of company paper in Cohn's account, we're talking about mere tip money.
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