J. Christopher Flowers, partner and head of the financial institutions group at Goldman, Sachs & Co. is retiring.

A person close to Mr. Flowers said he would be leaving by the end of the firm's fiscal year, which is Nov. 15. Mr. Flowers, 40, was traveling Tuesday and could not be reached.

Mr. Flowers joined Goldman in 1979 and had a seat at the table negotiating some of banking's biggest mergers, including Norwest Corp.'s pending acquisition of Wells Fargo & Co., BankAmerica Corp.'s merger with NationsBank Corp., and Great Western Financial Corp.'s sale to Washington Mutual Inc.

Earlier this year he hired Kendrick R. Wilson 3d from Lazard Freres & Co. to advise banks on mergers so he could focus on designing Goldman's initial public offering, which is scheduled for later this year.-Aaron Elstein

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