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Goldman Sachs abandons Trump's White House, for India

Mumbai

GOLDMAN Sachs is eyeing sunnier shores abroad. It just cut the ribbon at a new US$250 million office in Bengaluru, which has room to grow headcount by almost 50 per cent, to 7,300. After supplying US President Donald Trump with a coterie of close advisers, the Wall Street firm is clearly rejecting his anti-global positions with an implicit commitment to expand overseas.

Mr Trump liked the Goldman seal. Steven Mnuchin, a veteran of the investment bank, is his Treasury secretary, while Gary Cohn, who was president and chief operating officer, took the high-powered job of National Economic Council director.

Dina Powell, Steve Bannon and Anthony Scaramucci were among other alumni in the administration, some lasting notably longer than others. They all served a president whose "America First" agenda prompted companies, including Indian IT consultancy Infosys, to vow to create jobs in the United States.

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Much of it was lip service, and there is a limit to what could be delivered anyway. Goldman's new southern India site, "150 ORR", a nod to its recent sesquicentennial anniversary and its location on the city's congested outer ring road, will house an existing 5,000 full-time employees, or 14 per cent of the company's total. It is already the bank's third-largest office by people after New York and London.

In the same way that India's Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro are trying to climb the value chain with their technology services, Goldman has moved beyond, simply automating or outsourcing basic finance processing jobs.

Bengaluru represents a major base for its engineers, including those working in artificial intelligence and robotics.

The uncomfortable political reality is that India has an impressive selection of people working in these areas. And the best and the brightest of them are increasingly in a position to be pickier, and decline working night shifts to support operations in distant time zones.

Goldman generates about 40 per cent of its revenue outside the Americas. Though it is not moving any US jobs to Bengaluru, the bank plans to keep expanding there at a pace that reflects its worldwide growth. Chief executive David Solomon missed Thursday's grand opening in India because of plane troubles, but his message of international integration was delivered all the same. REUTERS