Goldman banker to advise Paulson on banks

NEW YORK Mon Jul 21, 2008 12:32pm EDT

Goldman Sachs Group's Ken Wilson, speaks to reporters in New York on November 13, 2003, during the second annual Reuters Finance Summit. REUTERS/Chip East

Goldman Sachs Group's Ken Wilson, speaks to reporters in New York on November 13, 2003, during the second annual Reuters Finance Summit.

Credit: Reuters/Chip East

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Senior Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) investment banker Kendrick Wilson will take a leave of absence to advise U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on the nation's banking crisis, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Wilson is a vice chairman of investment banking and chairman of financial institutions business at Goldman, where Paulson was CEO until 2006. Wilson has played a key role advising banks on capital raising and reorganizations.

He is expected to help address the crisis gripping banks, Wall Street firms and mortgage lenders, the sources said. He is expected to serve without pay through January, when President George W. Bush's second term ends.

Goldman declined to comment on the matter. A Treasury spokeswoman also declined to comment.

Wilson, 61, joined Goldman in 1998 and was a leading dealmaker during the bank merger boom of the late 1990s. Previously he was a vice chairman and head of investment banking at Lazard, Freres & Co, which he left amid a period of management turmoil at the partnership.

He was president of Ranieri & Co from 1988 to 1989, a firm set up by famed mortgage securities banker Lewis Ranieri. He was a senior executive vice president for now-defunct brokerage E.F. Hutton in 1987.

The Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School graduate served in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Special Forces officer.

A slump in housing prices and crumbling mortgage markets have gutted banks worldwide over the past year, generating more than $400 billion in losses and write-downs.

In recent weeks, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve have faced the growing threat of bank failures, depleted capital levels and a loss of confidence in such market pillars as mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae FNM.N.

Bush made a personal call to Wilson in recent days, asking him to assist Paulson, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The Treasury faces a void in its top ranks with the departure of Robert Steel this month to become chief executive at Wachovia Corp WB.N, one of the largest U.S. commercial banks.

Two years ago Paulson called on Steel -- another former Goldman Sachs executive -- to serve as undersecretary for domestic finance. Steel played a key role in formulating the Treasury's response to the nation's credit crisis last year.

Treasury has nominated Anthony Ryan to take over Steel's job. Ryan, a former fund management executive, served under Steel as assistant secretary for financial markets.

(Additional reporting by David Lawder in Washington; Dhanya Skariachan in Bangalore; Editing by Brian Moss and John Wallace)

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