Midway through a Wall Street Journal news article about a new crop of partners at Goldman Sachs and an attempt to pay them carried interest comes this passage: "Goldman's success always has been wrapped up in its reputation as a wealth-creation machine, drumming up deals for the financial benefit of its executives as well as its clients. (Today's crop of partners lament having missed out on a wildly profitable investment in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China that was offered to Goldman partners in 2006.)"
Reuters reported in 2013: "Goldman agreed to invest $2.58 billion in ICBC in January 2006, using internal funds that invest a mix of client, employee and corporate cash. With the final selldown, the last of six, gross proceeds from the sales would be $10.1 billion. Calculating Goldman's own profit on the stake is tricky because not all of the investment came from its own balance sheet, and the cost of acquiring and maintaining the ICBC stake is unknown." The Reuters article described the firm as having made, over a seven year term, "a return of nearly four times its original stake."
The Goldman Sachs website has some background on the deal:
In 2006, Goldman Sachs purchases a 7 percent stake in ICBC worth more than US$2.5 billion—its largest-ever principal investment—reinforcing a deep strategic collaboration between the two banks.
Goldman Sachs' involvement with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) dates back to a memorandum of understanding signed by CEO Henry Paulson, Jr. and ICBC President Jiang Jianging in 2003. Goldman Sachs agreed to set up a joint venture with ICBC to dispose of RMB10 billion of non-performing assets and to provide ICBC with guidance on best practices in international asset management.
2006 marked Goldman Sachs' largest principal investment to date and strongly underscored its strategic commitment to mainland China. Together with Germany's Allianz Group and American Express Company, the firm made an investment in ICBC, the country's largest wholesale and retail bank. The three foreign firms jointly purchased a 10 percent stake in ICBC for US$3.78 billion, with Goldman Sachs spending US$2.58 billion for a 7 percent interest.
Henry Paulson's China ties were covered in the FutureOfCapitalism book review of the Treasury Secretary's memoir, On the Brink.