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NYT: Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein "likely to step down" by year's end

Goldman Sachs Group CEO Lloyd Blankfein is preparing to relinquish one of the top jobs on Wall Street -- or any street -- by December, the New York Times reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Blankfein, 63, is likely to be replaced by David Solomon, 56, the investment bank's president, the news outlet reported.

Goldman, however, disputed the notion that any transfer-of-power arrangement had been finalized. "The NY Times story is based on idle speculation and the simple fact is that no decisions have been made," a spokesperson for Goldman told CBS MoneyWatch in an email.

Nonetheless, Solomon, according to the Times, is already setting up his management team in preparation for taking the helm from Blankfein, Goldman's chief executive since the eve of the financial crisis in 2006.

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Solomon, named sole president of the bank in March, was told early that month that Blankfein and Goldman's board had picked him as the next CEO, according to the Times' account. Harvey Schwartz, Solomon's co-president and other main contender for the position, announced plans to retire soon after.

Blankfein told CNBC last month that the person who replaced him would require time to better understand parts of Goldman where he'd never worked. 

In recent weeks, Blankfein has discretely worked to step down later this year, with his departure likely to come at the firm's annual dinner for retired partners in December, according to the Times. Solomon, 56, would replace Blankfein shortly after, the newspaper said, citing two company sources for the scenario. 

With his likely promotion not that far away, Solomon is beginning to map out possible players for his management team, the Goldman workers told the Times.

Since taking over as Goldman's CEO in 2006, Blankfein oversaw a hugely profitable operation, with Goldman making billions buying and selling assets with its own capital as well as its customers. Wagering that the U.S. housing market was headed for a fall in 2007 was among Goldman's more profitable bets, but also the cause of a large hit to its reputation as it thrived while many Americans suffered.

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