Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is once again mixing it up with a shareholder representative of the Almighty.
At the investment bank's annual shareholders' meeting on Thursday morning, a New York nun asked Blankfein if he'd consider hiring her, according to Financial Times reporter Tracy Alloway. Blankfein's quick-witted response: "I don't think I could outbid your current employer."
The exchange was only the most recent noteworthy interaction between Blankfein and the brides of Christ. In early April 2011, four orders of nuns invested in the bank signed a proposal for shareholders to request a review of Goldman's compensation practices after learning the details of Blankfein's salary. The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the Sisters of St Francis of Philadelphia and the Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel were responding to news that the firm's five top executives were paid a total of $69.5 million in 2010 during a lackluster year for the company's stock.
The nuns asked for "an evaluation of whether our senior executive compensation packages (including, but not limited to, options, benefits, perks, loans and retirement agreements) are 'excessive' and should be modified," as well as inquiries into how lower-ranking employee pay and fluctuating revenue impact remuneration at the top. "Whenever we're shareholders in a company," said Sister Nora Nash, "we believe in being active shareholders."
Goldman rejected the proposal, saying the preparation of such a report would be "a distraction" that "would not provide shareholders with any meaningful information," and claiming that investors already have all the information they need about executive pay.
In November 2009, Blankfein famously declared himself a simple banker "doing God's work." The comment, which Blankfein later characterized as a joke, elicited much criticism and indignation. This latest quip suggests that the CEO's sense of humor has improved somewhat; no word yet on whether the nun was joking.
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