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Goldman Sachs faces writedown on David Solomon’s GreenSky deal

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Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon speaks during the 2023 Forbes Iconoclast Summit at Pier 60 on June 12, 2023 in New York City. 

Taylor Hill | Getty Images

Goldman Sachs is likely to take a large writedown for its 2021 acquisition of fintech lender GreenSky after seeking to unload the business, CNBC has learned.

Bids for the installment-loan business are coming in well below what Goldman had hoped for, according to people with knowledge of the sale process.

Under CEO David Solomon, Goldman bought Atlanta-based GreenSky for $2.24 billion to help accelerate its push into consumer finance. But just 18 months after the bank’s September 2021 release announcing the deal, Solomon said he was selling the business after mounting losses and dysfunction in Goldman’s consumer division forced a strategic shift.

KKR, Apollo Global Management, Sixth Street Partners, Warburg Pincus and Synchrony Bank were among the asset managers and lenders involved in the first round of bids, which began early June, according to the people, who declined to be identified speaking about the sale. The companies declined to comment.

“Everybody’s been coming in low, and the Goldman team keeps pushing back, pounding the table about the value of it,” said one of the bidders.

The bank is continuing negotiations with a smaller group of bidders this week with the hope of ratcheting up the ultimate price, according to the sources.

Dual-track process

Goldman has been pursuing offers for GreenSky’s loan origination business and its book of existing loans separately as well as offers for a single deal, according to the people familiar.

One bidder said the origination platform is worth roughly $300 million, while another said it was worth closer to $500 million.

If a deal closed at anywhere near that valuation, it would represent a steep discount to what Goldman paid for it, forcing the company to disclose a writedown hitting its bottom line in an upcoming quarter.

While the all-stock acquisition was announced with a $2.24 billion valuation, it was worth closer to $1.7 billion by the time the transaction closed six months later, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Goldman President John Waldron acknowledged the potential for “some noise” to the bank’s results as a result of the GreenSky sale. The transaction could wipe out $500 million in goodwill tied to buying the lender, and the sale of loans could trigger other one-time accounting hits, he told analysts at a June 1 conference.

The turbulence marks the latest fallout from Solomon’s decision to exit most of the bank’s consumer efforts after pushing hard for his vision to transform Goldman into a fintech disruptor.

“We’re pleased with the participation by bidders,” Goldman spokesman Tony Fratto said in a statement. “We’re in the middle of the process and we’ll learn more as we go forward.”

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