At Goldman, there is such a thing as free lunch…

March 10, 2008

images5.jpegOn Friday morning, when the former executives of two competing firms were preparing to get grilled by Congress over the subprime mess, Wall Street golden child Goldman Sachs (GS) filed its latest proxy. Depending on the source, Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein made either $54 million {AP} or $67.5 million {WSJ}.

But the part that I found far more interesting was the new disclosures on some of the perks that top executives receive, including what the proxy describes as “in-office meals”. Though the filing provides no other details, we’re pretty sure they’re not talking about tuna on rye from the local deli, or even from the Goldman cafeteria, which just last week was the target of a protest over the low pay Goldman cafeteria workers receive from Aramark (old ticker RMK), which operates the cafeteria and which was taken private by Goldman and others last year.

Another first-time disclosure in Goldman’s filing was the amount the company spends on providing cars and drivers to its five top executives, which the company says are necessary for “security reasons”. Unlike a lot of other companies, Goldman provides the aggregate cost of the service, so it’s hard to figure out what part of the $233K spent to provide Blankfein with a car was for business use vs. personal use. Also interesting was the $1.1 million in “international assignment benefits”, which we’re assuming is mostly housing expenses and airfare, though there’s no other detail, and the corresponding $2.1 million tax gross-up that Edward Forst, the former chief administrative officer who in September was tapped as co-head of investment management, received after moving to London in April.

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