Goldman Sachs CEO makes $6.1M on stock options

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NEW YORK (AP) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein has reaped a $6.1 million gain by cashing in more than 90,000 stock options before they expired in November.

Blankfein realized the windfall Wednesday by exercising his right to buy 90,681 Goldman shares at $82.875, according to a Friday regulatory filing. He then sold the stock at prices ranging between $149.49 and $152.

Goldman shares closed Friday at $148.08. That’s a 79 percent increase from the stock’s price in November 2000 when Blankfein received the options.

Goldman is considered the leading Wall Street bank, usually outdistancing its rivals with its trading and investment banking operations. The company beat second-quarter earnings forecasts although its net income fell 83 percent due to the $550 billion it paid to settle civil fraud charges brought by the SEC and a $600 million charge for a British employee bonus tax.

Goldman has been sharply criticized for its high compensation levels after it accepted a $10 billion government bailout during the financial crisis in 2008. It also received $13 billion from insurer American International Group Inc. after the government bailed that company out.

Two other top Goldman executives also profited from expiring options.

Gary Cohn, Goldman’s president, made $4.9 million by exercising more than 73,600 options and David Viniar, the bank’s chief financial officer, made $4.5 million on more than 67,300 options.

According to previous filings with the SEC, Blankfein earned $862,657 in 2009, down from $42.9 million in 2008.

His pay for 2009 included salary and perks. He received no grants of stock awards or options during 2009, while his compensation from 2008 included stock compensation valued at $42.1 million on the day it was granted.

The company’s stock is down 20 percent from its 2010 high on April 15, the day before the SEC announced its charges against the bank. Goldman settled those charges, which grew out of a 2007 mortgage-related securities transaction, on July 16. The stock is up 13 percent from its 2010 low of $131.08, reached July 2.

Like other bank stocks, Goldman has been hit hard this year by uncertainty over the impact that the new federal financial regulation law will have on their business. The law could restrict the lucrative trading operations that has made Goldman and other banks so profitable.