Goldman, Zions take Salt Lake City stage this week
When it comes to local news about banking, it's not likely to get more rousing than what happens in Salt Lake City later this week.
In a first on Thursday, Goldman Sachs, the giant New York investment bank, beginning at 9:30 a.m. will hold its annual shareholder meeting at its offices at 222 S. Main St. Leading the show will be Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein, one of the most powerful and highly paid bankers on Wall Street.
On Friday beginning at 1 p.m., Zions Bancorp will stage its annual meeting with shareholders. The gathering will be at Zions' headquarters, at the corner of South Temple and Main Street.
The back-to-back affairs come one month after another banking giant, Wells Fargo, had its annual meeting in Salt Lake City for the first time. That affair generated demonstrations inside and outside The Grand America hotel by protesters who criticized the bank's mortgage policies.
Although Goldman's 2012 meeting in New Jersey drew a few dozen protesters, the meeting was fairly uneventful, according to published reports. This year, Blankfein will face several shareholder proposals, including one asking Goldman Sachs to establish a committee that would improve the bank's human rights practices.
Another shareholder proposal would require the bank to prepare a report on its lobbying practices. A third would call for the board to hire an investment bank to explore a merger or sale of Goldman Sachs.
The firm wants shareholders to vote against the proposals.
At the Zions meeting, shareholders are expected to vote on a proposal to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive, both held by Harris Simmons.
The proposal, from shareholder advocate Gerald Armstrong, is the same as one he presented at Zions' gathering in 2010 and last month at Wells Fargo's annual meeting. Zions and Wells Fargo shareholders gave thumbs down to the idea. Armstrong was more successful at KeyCorp's 2012 annual meeting, when shareholders approved his plan to put the role of chairman in the hands of someone who isn't a bank executive.
Zions is urging shareholders to vote no, again.
Goldman Sachs arrived in Salt Lake City in 2000, and today the Utah office is its second-largest operation in the United States, after its New York/New Jersey campus. The firm has approximately 1,500 employees and other staff in Salt Lake City and continues to add jobs, according to a proxy statement.
"We believe that holding our annual meeting in Salt Lake City emphasizes the importance of our expanding presence in, and our commitment to, the region and our people there," Goldman Sachs said.
In a related event, Blankfein will speak Wednesday evening at a graduation ceremony for the first class of Utah small -business owners who have completed the firm's 10,000 Small Business program. The ceremony will be at the Union Pacific Depot in The Gateway .
In January, 33 business owners selected on a competitive basis began a set of 10 free classes at Salt Lake Community College. The classes were taught by instructors who used a curriculum that Goldman Sachs developed with help from Babson College, a private business school in Wellsley, Mass. The program is aimed at owners with limited resources whose businesses have potential to get bigger. More classes will be offered over the next five years.