NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc on Friday awarded Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and other executives stock bonuses worth $9 million each, an increase from last year when they received no bonuses at all, but for Blankfein far below the $67.9 million he got in 2007.
The stock bonus was also below the roughly $16 million rival bank JPMorgan Chase & Co awarded to CEO Jamie Dimon earlier on Friday and fell vastly short of published speculation that Blankfein could get up to $100 million.
Goldman, Wall Street’s dominant company, has been lambasted for its quick return to outsized profits and bonuses so soon after U.S. taxpayers had to rescue the financial services industry.
“The firm produced very good results for 2009, but the environment is very difficult and the board was mindful of that difficult environment in making decisions about executive compensation,” Goldman spokesman Lucas van Praag said.
Blankfein, along with President and Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn and Chief Financial Officer David Viniar, received 58,381 stock units, worth $8.99 million based on Friday’s closing share price.
The units do not convert into shares until 2011 at the earliest, and once converted they cannot be sold or transferred before January 2015, according to the filing.
‘WAY BELOW THE MARKET’
It was not immediately clear whether the reserved stock could be used as collateral for loans.
The smaller than expected pay packages were the latest sign of how Goldman has sought to soften its image after being excoriated by some commentators and politicians for reaping huge profits after benefiting from various forms of government help.
“Obviously they made a conscious decision that they were, at least for this year, going to be way below the market,” said Wall Street compensation analyst Alan Johnson.
Johnson said it is likely Blankfein will be “way down the list” in terms of top earners at Goldman.
“He is going to have a lot of people two levels below him who are making more than he does,” Johnson said.
Goldman was on pace to post a record payday for employees for 2009 going into the fourth quarter, but shifted course, recording no compensation expenses for the final three months of the year and instead making a $500 million charitable contribution.
“They got paid pretty well the past couple of years, so maybe they can just pay themselves less well this year, then maybe it blows over in a year or two and they can start paying themselves pretty handsomely again,” said Blake Howells, director of equity research at Becker Capital in Portland, Oregon.
He called the pay amount “small and pretty restrictive.”
Dimon’s bonus was in a mixture of restricted shares and options, and he did not take a cash bonus.
Goldman Sachs shares closed up 2.3 percent on Friday at $154.16.
Reporting by Steve Eder; additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Elinor Comlay; editing by Carol Bishopric