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Goldman executives get access to restricted stock

(Reuters) - Top Goldman Sachs Group Inc executives received previously restricted stock awards that are now worth $47.7 million, according to regulatory filings, though the executives are still limited in selling most of their Goldman stock.

Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, Chief Financial Officer David Viniar, Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn and top investment banker and vice chairman John Weinberg each received 45,497 shares worth $5.1 million, based on Goldman's closing price of $111.77 on Friday.

Seven other executives each received previously awarded shares worth $2.8 million to $5 million, according to Form 4 filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Among those executives are vice chairmen Michael Evans and Michael Sherwood, as well as Goldman's legal chief, Gregory Palm, its accounting chief, Sarah Smith, and compliance chief Alan Cohen.

The stock awards became unlocked on Wednesday, but the 11 executives did not immediately sell those shares. They did sell an additional $20.2 million worth of Goldman stock at $107.44 apiece to cover tax obligations.

The transactions took place on Wednesday, when executives received access to the previously restricted stock.

Starting in 2009, Wall Street banks began shifting more of their bonus awards into stock that executives are required to hold for multi-year periods in an effort to align incentives with long-term performance.

In 2011, some of those payments started coming due, leaving compensation costs stubbornly high for big investment banks, even as they cut jobs and bonus pools due to weak business.

Last year, Goldman paid $12.2 billion in compensation costs, down 21 percent from 2010, and reduced its payroll by 2,400 jobs. Yet because revenue fell even more, compensation as a percentage of revenue rose to 42.4 percent from 39.3 percent the previous year.

(Reporting By Lauren Tara LaCapra; editing by Andre Grenon)

(Corrects story to make clear that Goldman Sachs executives cannot immediately sell all of the shares received from a previous award)

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