About a month ago, retired Citi CEO Sandy Weill set his alarm an hour early, got out of bed when it was still dark, ate a piece of rye toast, told Joan he’d see her when he’d see her, took the elevator downstairs to wait for the car that drove him out to Englewood Cliffs, and went on CNBC to proffer a small suggestion to Wall Street: break up the big banks. Perhaps you heard about it? Not many people were receptive to the notion of Weill giving them advice on the matter, which may or may not have had something to do with the fact that in his day, Weill couldn’t get enough of big banks and was the man responsible for cobbling together the behemoth known as Citigroup, an institution so huge it can barely support its own weight. The response by most, in fact, was “Shut it, you old bag.” But what about Vikram Pandit, the lucky guy who inherited the place? What did he think of Weill’s tip? After giving it some good thought– really and truly considering it– for a few weeks, he’s decided to take a pass:
Citigroup’s chief executive has knocked back the idea of big banks being split up after calls from people such as his predecessor Sandy Weill.
But not for the reasons you might think! Pandit actually agrees with Sando because if you think about it, Citi’s already been broken up and is basically the bank it was before the merger that resulted in the need for firefighters to use a giant pulley system to lift it out of bed every morning and help it get around.
Pandit said Citi, formed in Mr Weill’s time with mergers such as the acquisition of Travelers in 1998, had already gone back to the basics of banking, and aside from some global markets businesses had sold most of the units from that deal. “What’s left here is essentially the old Citicorp,” he told the Financial Times. “That’s a tried and proven strategy. Why did it work? Because it was a strategy based upon operating the business and serving clients and not a strategy based on dealmaking. That’s the fundamental difference.”
So we’re all on the same page here.