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The resignation of Harvey Schwartz will leave David Solomon as the sole President and COO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

In the bank's statement, Blankfein thanked Schwartz for his work at the firm.

That solidifies Solomon as the No. 2 behind Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who could step down as soon as the end of the year, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Analysts said the timing of the official announcement came as a surprise, but ended speculation that the bank could name two people to run the firm as co-CEOs or cochairmen, which it has done in the past, and signaled to Wall Street that Solomon was the clear heir apparent.

Long seen as the undisputed king of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs has come under greater scrutiny over the a year ago or two as returns of its once-formidable trading divisions have languished and as rival Morgan Stanley has won plaudits for its asset management services. Harvey's work ethic, command of complexity, and client focus have defined his career at the firm.

Lloyd Blankfein was about to bet the future of Goldman Sachs. The succession of Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, took six years, turning into a closely-watched, three-man horserace that finally ended when Jeffrey Immelt won the role in 2000. He is not expected to return to Goldman.

Picking Solomon is consistent with Goldman's growth plan outlined last fall in which it emphasized greater investment banking presence in the middle market, as well as stepped-up operations in asset management and newer ventures in online banking, said Wang. Goldman's shares closed up just under 1 percent.

It will also help squash the public parlor game over who will succeed Blankfein, which has drawn repeated headlines about the competition between Schwartz and Solomon. Solomon also led a study about improving the quality of life for Goldman's junior bankers, resulting in new limits on weekend working hours, the report said.