Goldman Sachs seeks agency for Web site

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Goldman Sachs Group has contacted agencies to promote a new Web site for millionaire investors.

Agencies contacted said the $50 million assignment will include a heavy direct and relationship marketing component. Duties will also include event planning and public relations.

The company has already held credential meetings, one agency exec said; and a decision is expected quickly. The search is being handled in-house.

Goldman spent $11 million in media during the first 11 months of 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

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Goldman's roster agencies, Doremus & Co., and Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, both New York, would not comment; but neither is expected to participate in the review. A spokeswoman for Goldman refused comment.

The site, GS.com, is expected to go online later this year. The Goldman spokeswoman did not offer any details, but said it will be a "sophisticated online financial services site" that will offer several services beyond stock trading.

Goldman is among many blue-chip investment companies to explore online services for its wealthy clients. Key competitors such as Merrill Lynch & Co. and J.P. Morgan & Co. have also moved to offer wealthy clients the option of doing business online and offline. Even discount broker Charles Schwab & Co. moved upmarket in January when it agreed to buy U.S. Trust Corp., a manager of assets for wealthy clients.

A healthy stock market and the boom in technology and entrepreneurial companies since the late 1980s have created a wave of new millionaires -- particularly Internet-savvy young entrepreneurs -- and investment companies are increasingly chasing their assets. Recent studies have found the number of U.S. households with more than $1 million in assets jumped from 1.8 million in 1990 to 6.7 million in 1998. (AA, Jan. 10)

Goldman has targeted online services as a key strategy to grow assets. Chairman Henry M. Paulson and Presidents John Thain and John Thornton vowed "to become the world's premier technology investment bank" in a joint letter in the company's annual report.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca, Amanda Beeler.

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