If Goldman Sachs Can't Appreciate Ed Forst's Outside The Box Style Of Negotiating Then Yeah, This Is For The Best

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He'll take his talents elsewhere.

Goldman Sachs announced on Friday that Edward C. Forst, a confidant of the bank’s chief executive and a member of the company’s influential management committee, would leave the company. While the departure of Mr. Forst, who turns 51 later this month, was described as a retirement, people briefed on the matter said the move came amid questions about his leadership style, and after a recent misstep several weeks ago, when he was a no-show at an important meeting with a client in Europe...He was absent for the gathering and could not be reached, causing his colleagues to become concerned. When they finally reached Mr. Forst, questions were raised about his behavior, according to the people briefed on the matter.

[Dealbook]

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FYI, Whitney Tilson's Investment Thesis On Goldman Sachs Has Not Changed In Light Of Times Op-Ed (Update)

Having said that, T2 Partners will be "monitoring" the situation. The op ed in today’s New York Times by retiring Goldman Sachs Executive Director Greg Smith is the talk of Wall Street. We think we know Goldman well, as the company has been our prime broker for the past seven years and Goldman (both stock and call options) is one of our largest positions, so we wanted to add our comments. Our direct experience as a client of Goldman has been universally positive. The many people we have dealt with there have all been exceptionally talented and high-grade, and never once have we had a negative experience in which we felt that they took advantage of us or didn’t do what they said they would do. That said, we are not naïve. In all of our dealings with Wall Street firms, we assume that they are looking out for their own bottom lines, not ours. And we are certainly aware that the old, gentlemanly culture in which integrity and a customer-first attitude generally prevailed is long gone – not just at Goldman, but across all of Wall Street – and, in fact, across the entire financial industry (the reasons for this and what should be done about it are the subject for another day). When we think about investing in any company – especially a financial one, which is heavily regulated, leveraged, and particularly difficult for an outsider to analyze – we factor into our investment equation our assessment of the company’s culture and values, and, if we have any concerns, what the potential associated risks are, such as unexpected losses and regulatory action. In light of our view of the moral decay across the U.S. financial sector, we aggressively haircut our estimates of intrinsic value in the sector – some companies more so than others. But at some price, of course, any stock is a buy, and last August and September we felt that the negativity surrounding the financial sector was way overdone and hence made a big – and, so far, very profitable – bet on Goldman and a number of other U.S. financial firms. With the run-up in Goldman’s stock – after falling below $90 as recently as December, it’s now over $120, just above tangible book value of $119.72 as of 12/31/11 – we’ve been debating whether to trim or exit our position, so today’s op ed is timely. But is it relevant to our investment thesis? We think probably not, for two reasons: 1) The argument that Goldman has become increasingly profit driven, sometimes at the expense of clients’ best interests, and that some employees use vulgar and disrespectful language is hardly news. What’s the next “shocking” headline: “Prostitution in Vegas!”? 2) We highly doubt that Goldman is as truly corrupt as Smith makes it out to be. Goldman has more than 30,000 employees (including nearly 12,000 vice presidents, of which Mr. Smith is one) and has gone through wrenching changes in the past year, including savage cuts to bonuses and extensive layoffs, so it doesn’t surprise us that there are many disgruntled employees, especially those who are leaving. Is Smith one of them? It’s hard to tell, but here’s an email sent to me this morning by a former partner at Goldman (who generally agrees that the firm’s culture is not what it once was): There are a couple of things out of place. 1) This guy has been at firm for 12 years and is only a VP…a piss ant of sorts. He should have been an MD-light by now, so clearly he has been running in place for some time. 2) He was in U.S. equity derivatives in London…sort of like equities in Dallas…more confirmation he is a lightweight. Somewhere along the line he has had sand kicked in his face…and is not as good as he thinks he is. That happens to a lot of high achievers there. In summary, we think it’s likely that Goldman does the right thing for its clients the vast majority of the time – but not as certainly as it used to in the old days. Times have changed and the trend is unfortunate, but it is not unique to Goldman. In fact, we believe that Goldman still has a better culture and is more ethical than most of its competitors – though this is a very low bar to be sure. Our investment thesis on Goldman is simple: when all the dust settles, it will remain the premier investment banking franchise in the world – and, if so, will be worth a substantial premium to tangible book value. Smith’s column is a warning flag that we’ll be monitoring closely, but we believe our investment thesis remains intact and the stock is still cheap, so we’re not selling.

Connection To A Company Called "Yeah Baby" Not Even The Best Part Of "High School Buddies" Insider Trading Scam

Over the past several years, much has been made about the supposed incompetence of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The regulator failed to realize Bernie Madoff had been running an illegitimate Ponzi scheme, despite more or less being told by Bernie Madoff himself, "I am running an illegitimate Ponzi scheme." It went after David Einhorn, when it should have been going after Allied Capital, the company the hedge fund manager told them was committing fraud. Its proposal for stepping up investigators' games was to start a Fraud College.* Until recently, it employed individuals in the office responsible for "ensuring exchanges follow guidelines concerning...computer audits, security, and capacity" who had "little or no experience with exchange technical matters." At this point, there have been so many stories about the SEC getting things wrong that the default is to assume it fucked up, even when that is not actually the case. What's more, even when Team Schapiro is on top of its game, resources are so strained that many scams that should be caught fall through the cracks. So you can maybe understand why a group of "high school buddies," along with a few other guys they picked up along the way, who were engaging in securities fraud, weren't too worried about getting caught.