Goldman Sachs is to strengthen its executive office in London to ensure better management of a group that, like many US-based investment banks, is seeing faster growth in Europe and Asia than the Americas.
Top US-based executives, including chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, are to have scheduling and other administrative support functions in London identical to those they currently have at headquarters in New York.
Senior European executives, including co-heads Michael Sherwood and Richard Gnodde, will also have increased administrative and scheduling support to ensure they are accessible to top clients and in touch with regulators and employees across the rapidly growing list of countries in which Goldman does business.
The move, while subtle, reflects the growing importance of Europe and emerging markets in the Middle East and Asia to the bottom line at Goldman and at other US-based banks such as Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers.
It comes as observers on both sides of the Atlantic watch for any signal that the balance of power at global financial groups is shifting away from New York to London. Some view such a shift as inevitable over the next several years.
According to Dealogic, there have been 305 initial public offerings on main exchanges in London, Hong Kong and Tokyo this year worth $83.5bn against 147 worth $33.3bn on New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.
Investment banks have advised on 8,001 merger deals in the Americas valued at $1,403bn compared with 19,269 deals worth $1,833bn in Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa so far this year.
London is viewed as a more favourable location for managing Asian and emerging markets because it is closer in time zone and geography.
Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of global marketing services group WPP, said global groups would ultimately have seamless executive functions shared between the Americas, Europe and Asia. “It will have to be a three-headed structure,” he said.
Morgan Stanley chief executive John Mack held a management committee meeting in London last month and plans more.
Jonathan Chenevix-Trench, chairman of Morgan Stanley International, said New York would remain a global financial centre. But London had asserted itself as an equal partner rather than a branch office, he said. “As emerging markets become more and more important it plays to London’s strengths.”
Taking note of the shift, business leaders and politicians in New York have urged a relaxation of the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform law and restrictions on shareholder lawsuits.
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