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Goldman float looks certain

GOLDMAN SACHS partners are poised to vote strongly in favour tomorrow of a $35bn flotation of the US bank, according to the latest soundings.

Despite rumours of a close vote, sources close to the bank said its 193 partners would be "very surprised" if a majority opposed flotation when they vote at a meeting in Rye Brook, near Manhattan.

"There's obviously a fair head of steam building up in favour of doing it," the source said. Partners are believed to be set for windfall payouts of at least $100m each.

Jon Corzine, the managing partner who is rumoured to be in line for a payout worth $800m, will take further soundings today to confirm there is a consensus behind the proposals. A yes vote tomorrow would lead to a further vote when financial details have been finalised.

The bank is known to be keen to appease the so-called "marzipan layer" of senior managers who will be robbed of the chance to become a partner. Their 210 most senior managers are likely to get at least $5m each.

Distribution of the windfall will be staggered. Partners are expected to get an amount that matches their time at the bank. At the London branch, 35 partners will benefit.

Goldman has faced some internal opposition to the idea of floating from partners who believe the bank's success is founded on its unique partnership culture. Six votes have gone against flotation in the past, including one just two years ago.

However, analysts believe New York banks are increasingly keen to expand abroad in the race to become global players. Flotation would make it much easier for Goldman Sachs to expand by acquisition.