Jim O’Neill, 55, the Goldman Sachs honcho who coined the term “BRIC” to describe the emerging-markets juggernaut of Brazil, Russia, India and China, surprised the asset management world on Tuesday with his announcement that he will retire this year.
Finishing out his career as chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, O’Neill is best known for pinpointing the BRIC phenomenon of the emerging markets, where the more powerful nations’ economies and growth strategies increasingly dominate world GDP and draw the interest of Western investors.
In a joint announcement, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein and President and COO Gary Cohn credited O’Neill with identifying revolutionary economic trends, particularly the BRIC concept.
“Jim’s BRIC thesis has challenged conventional thinking about emerging markets and, as a result, has had a significant economic and social impact,” Blankfein and Cohn said in a statement.
Tim O’Neill and Eric Lane will continue to co-head GSAM. The role of chairman was created for O’Neill when he joined the division in 2010, and there are no plans to replace him. He has not yet given an exact date for when he will leave.
Writing about O’Neill’s retirement for the Financial Times, Stefan Wagstyl called him “a larger-than-life figure who made a big impression wherever he went, be it in the foreign exchange trading room where he started his financial career or at Manchester United, the football club he has long supported and once tried to buy.”