Goldman kicks off Indian charm offensive

Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:13pm EDT
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By Henry Foy and Sumeet Chatterjee

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote) sought to charm corporate India on Thursday by holding its first annual board meeting in the country, against a backdrop of slow business, a cooling economy and tough regulation.

Still smarting from a series of knocks to its reputation, the Wall Street firm's board members spent Thursday closeted on an upper floor of Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace hotel, which was heavily damaged during a 2008 militant attack on the financial capital.

Goldman showed the adverse publicity has not weakened its pulling power, as the board used the event to host a lunch meeting for prominent Indian business leaders.

Industrialists including Mukesh Ambani, Asia's second-richest man, according to Forbes, and chairman of Reliance Industries (RELI.NS: Quote); and Ratan Tata, head of India's biggest business house, the Tata group, which also owns the Taj hotel chain, were also due to meet the executives, sources said.

Both companies, as well as Goldman, declined to comment.

Goldman Chief Executive and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein, Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn and the rest of the Goldman entourage were due to travel on Friday to New Delhi, the Indian capital, the sources added.

Board meetings rarely generate this much attention, but for Goldman, the India event comes amid a flurry of news, and media were kept at a distance.

Goldman, long Wall Street's dominant investment bank, has become a lightning rod for criticism of the financial industry in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.   Continued...

Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs Lloyd C. Blankfein talks during a business roundtable event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington February 14, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing