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Lloyd Blankfein is preparing to exit the firm as soon as year end. Either way, the bank appears to be laying the groundwork for succession after Blankfein helped guide the bank out of the 2007-'08 financial crisis.

The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter that it didn't identify, said Blankfein, 63, could leave this year and the bank meant to replace him with one of its two co-presidents, David Solomon or Harvey Schwartz. He hasn't set a timetable for his departure or spoken with senior colleagues about any plans to step down by the end of the year, a person with knowledge of his thinking told Bloomberg. It emerged from the crisis transformed, focusing less on risky trading and is now exploring new businesses like consumer loans.

Mike Mayo, a bank analyst at Wells Fargo & Co., said the bank has four good contenders as CEO a year from now.

The Wall Street juggernaut's boss announced that he will step down after 12 years at the top of the firm, which sent GS shares down before coming back up later in the day. Although Goldman's wealth and asset management unit generated record net revenues in 2017, its 2017 net income of $4.3 billion fell by more than 40 percent compared to its 2016 earnings.

Schwartz ran trading at Goldman before becoming CFO, and Solomon ran the investment banking business and is known as a strong manager.

He's had the job for 12 years, and steered the bank through the 2008 financial crisis.

Gary Cohn, who previously was Goldman's chief operating officer, left previous year to become chief economic adviser to President Donald Trump. After making it through his cancer treatments, he said working served as a lovely distraction. Solomon and Schwartz are reportedly the top candidates for Blankfein's position. All who remain are Blankfein and Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co.