Goldman Sachs Group Inc., accused of misleading clients by a U.S. Senate inquiry, is likely to make management changes in the “near-term,” said William Tanona, an analyst at UBS AG.
“Any turnover will concern investors despite the firm’s deep bench,” Tanona, who worked at Goldman Sachs from 2005 to 2008, wrote today in a note to investors. “GS’s management team is very strong; however, missteps on the public relations front have further tarnished the firm’s reputation.” Managers will remain under strain after lawmakers sent findings to the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission, he said.
Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the Democratic chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the panel’s senior Republican, signed a letter asking prosecutors and the SEC to examine findings of a two-year inquiry on the financial crisis released last month. Levin said he wants them to determine whether Goldman Sachs broke laws by misleading clients who bought securities tied to the housing market without knowing the firm would benefit if values fell.
In making his prediction, Tanona didn’t identify any managers who might leave or take new roles, according to a summary of his note. Stephen Cohen, a spokesman for New York-based Goldman Sachs, declined to comment.
Tanona initiated coverage on Goldman Sachs in a note today that rated the firm “buy.” His share-price estimate for the firm is $200, 32 percent above yesterday’s closing price. Goldman Sachs has fallen 9.7 percent this year, after dropping 0.4 percent in 2010.
Tanona, who previously covered financial firms at Collins Stewart Plc before joining Zurich-based UBS last year, also placed initial “buy” recommendations on JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc., according to the note. He rated Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp. “neutral.”
The sector of universal banks and brokers has “significant long-term upside” while legal and regulatory issues may provide “turbulence” in the short-term, he wrote.
The Senate report came less than a year after Goldman Sachs paid $550 million to resolve SEC claims that it failed to disclose that hedge fund Paulson & Co. was betting against, and influenced the selection of, collateralized debt obligations the company was packaging and selling.
Attorney General Eric Holder, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, confirmed that his department is scrutinizing the Senate report. Two people briefed on the matter confirmed that the SEC enforcement division is also studying it.
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