Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Citigroup are moving ahead with plans to create a KKR fund to buy LBO loans from Citigroup with more loans from Citigroup. Despite the emergence of the Entity, we still consider this the best story ever.
KKR is providing $2 billion of equity funding through its Strategic Capital Fund, according to Financial News. Citigroup will underwrite $8 billion in debt financing. KKR will then use the leveraged fund to purchase LBO loans from Citigroup—and, perhaps from other banks with LBO loans that are currently being sold under-par—which will allow Citigroup to move the loans off its books without flooding the broader market with the loans.
Citi and KKR have quite a cozy relationship. The bank is one of the private equity firm’s largest lenders. It reportedly had underwritten some $50 billion of loans that it was not able to syndicate. There are indications, however, that it may have since sold some of those loans by offering them to investors at 95 to 97 cents on the dollar.
Perhaps the most mind boggling aspect of this deal is that the LBO loans KKR is reportedly interested in buying are the loans Citigroup made to finance KKR acquisitions, including the buyout of First Data. Follow this closely: Citigroup is lending money to a KKR vehicle that will buy up loans Citigroup made to KKR owned companies.
The idea seems to be that investors might be more interested in buying loans made to the new KKR entity than those made to the KKR portfolio companies. But since the major assets of the new KKR company will be loans to those portfolio companies, it appears that all the new investors are buying is whatever security they get they get from that extra $2 billion in equity and, perhaps, some diversification value.
Questions are being raised—apparently by regulators and others—about how tough of a customer the KKR fund will be when it comes to negotiating prices for the loans it buys from Citigroup. How tough can you be when your buying assets with leverage provided by the seller? In short, some fear that the fund may end up paying a premium to the market price for the loans, artificially pumping up Citigroup’s balance sheet.
KKR changes tactics to get finance away [Financial News via DealBook]

  • 01 Oct 2007 at 4:25 PM
  • Citi

Sounds like at least one job at Citi is still safe. Somehow.

  • 25 Jun 2007 at 2:44 PM
  • Citi

Todd Thomson Will Return To Wall Street (When His Vacation Is Over)

todd_thomson.jpgYou remember Todd Thomson, the guy who got fired from Citigroup for either too loosely spending the company dime on Maria Bartiromo or because Chuck Prince needed a scapegoat to distract people from Citi’s performance (are C shareholders as easily distracted by someone getting canned as Jim Cramer is by his reflection?)? Even though he’s on his I’m-sorry-I-cheated-and-lost-my-job vacation with his family (a safari in South Africa), the old boy checked in with to say that he’s got plans to work in private equity.
Interestingly enough, Thomson told the news site that he believes himself to have “a clean and good track record.” Okay, sure. And getting funds shouldn’t be too difficult, given TT’s “business contacts and high-net-worth relationships.”
Ex-Citi Hot Shot Thomson Mulls a Private-Equity Comeback []

  • 17 May 2007 at 2:31 PM
  • Banks

Is Rubin Up For Citigroup’s Top Slot?

rubinandlampertcitigroup.jpgEddie Lampert may be betting that former US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin is poised to take over as chief of Citigroup, according to a former colleague of both Lampert and Rubin. Earlier this week, Lampert’s ESL Investments disclosed that it had accumulated a 0.3% stake in Citi, setting off speculation about Lampert’s intentions. Speculation ranged from notion that Lampert might view Citigroup as cheap relative to it’s banking peers—this came from an unnamed banker who happens to work at Citigroup—to the idea that he might be poised to take an “activist investor” stance and agitate for change. Shares of Citigroup role 4% following the disclosure of ESL’s position.
“Lampert is tight with Rubin. He loves the man. Idolizes him. He may think that Rubin’s about to become a lot more involved at Citigroup, maybe even to take over for Prince,” the source said, referring to Citigroup chief executive Chuck Prince.
Rubin rose to Wall Street at Goldman Sachs before being appointed to the Treasury position by Bill Clinton. He is now the chairman of Citigroup’s executive committee. Early in his career Lampert worked under Rubin when he was an arbitrage trader at Goldman Sachs. This morning’s Wall Street Journal described Rubin as one of Lampert’s “leading role models.”
Yesterday CNBC’s Charlie Gasparino said that there was pressure for Rubin to take a more active role in the management of Citigroup. His position at the head of the executive committee brings him a hefty paycheck—reportedly $17 million—but some have said he doesn’t exercise much responsibility for the management of the bank. At least one banker employed at an investment bank described Rubin as “a relationship guy” whose job mainly involved using the connections he has made during his long career in finance and government to win business for the bank.
Prince’s tenure at the top of Citigroup has not been a happy one. The bank has been under-pressure from investors to change its management and some have even suggested that it spin off some of its constituent businesses. Prince is widely seen as unwilling to fundamentally change the structure of Citigroup.
Will Chorus Grow at Citi? [Wall Street Journal]

Pre-emptive Resignations

citigroupbuilding.jpg“Were you sacked, or did you quit?”
“I’m not sure, actually.”
– Lord of the Admiralty to his aide.
In the last 18 months, almost half of Citigroup’s senior management for consumer operations (and we use the term loosely) has jumped ship. The latest tri-fecta being Faith Massingale, head of Citi’s international cards operation, Ashok Vaswani, head of Asia Pacific, and Joyce Phillips, head of international retail banking. Massingale and Philllips brought in $16 billion in revenue last year. While it’s not news to anyone that Chuck Prince, aside from being named for a popular brand of pasta, has been blamed for the loss of top executives, over management style, coyly termed “differences of opinions concerning company perks”, the Financial Times notes that departures “lower down the chain are more worrying.” One anonymous soul commented that he doubts “whether many investors or even some more board members realize the extent of the losses.” If that doesn’t get Prince’s attention, perhaps the fact that several of the departees have joined noted arch-rival Jamie Dimon, at JPMorgan Chase will put some sauce on.
Citi unit sees exodus of managers [FT]

Let’s Get It, and Several Other Things, Done

citi.jpg Maybe there’s a reason Citi is putting its umbrellas away. Citi announced that it will spend $50bn over the next 10 years on “investments, financings and related activities designed to address global climate change.” Citi claims the sum includes $10bn Citi has already invested in such endeavors. Unfortunately the “Let’s get it done” path to profitability closely mirrors the strategy employed by the underpants gnomes in South Park (Step 1- invest in green tech, Step 2 – [conspicuous silence], Step 3 – profit!), unless “addressing global climate change” involves throwing around all that Saudi money in a way that doesn’t directly choke baby seals.
In other Citi news, the first “Let’s get ‘er it done” spots started running last night (watch here). Seattle-based Publicis West devised the first ad, which unlike Citi’s identity theft campaign, overflows with optimism, violently climaxing in the image of a boy in a raincoat letting go of his mothers hand and venturing off into the unknown, of a $20k a year gated pre-head start program. The ad is just a few 300mph tennis serves away from “impossible is nothing” style ridiculousness. A transcript of the narration in the commercial:
Who first believed in you? [my sponsor]
Listened to your dreams? [my shrink]
Got you on your way? [greenies]
We all need a partner [for tax reasons]
And Citi has the people and expertise to make it all possible [17,000 less of them]
So buy that house [who doesn’t need more debt?]
Merge that company [we’ll even throw in a “buy” rating]
Ask out Sally Krawcheck [seriously, Sally is crazy horny]
Start that business [No really, a social networking site for ferret owners is a great idea, here’s your loan]
Send her to college [Send him to boarding school]
Steal that cable [they keep jacking up the monthly dvr/hd/on-demand rates!]
Build a fortune [1.5% per annum on that $832 from your bar mitzvah]
Take your business global [it’s not an office party, it’s an office “fiesta”]
Plan for the future [Citi is investing another $10bn in flux capacitors]
We all need a partner [redundant, in case you’re Mormon]
A partner that helps turns dreams into realities [or a cursed monkey’s paw]
Citi – Let’s get it done [sounds good, but the guy on the other side of the octagon looks angry]
The money shot is when the Citi arch appears, starting with the word “dreams” and ending with the word “realities.”
Citigroup to spend $50 bln over 10 yrs to address climate change – [MarketWatch]
Publicis, Citi Dare to Dream – [Adweek]

  • 01 May 2007 at 11:27 AM
  • Citi

BP Chief Resigns

lordebrownREX0105_228x366.jpgBP chief Lord Browne has resigned from his post, to be replaced immediately by Dr. Tony Hayward, amidst accusations that he used company money to support (and woo) his partner of four years, Jeff Chevalier. The allegations against Browne include:

• BP resources were diverted for Mr. Chevalier’s use, and he was given computers and technical support staff while a company was set up for him involving BP personnel (Lord Browne is said to have helped set up a company for him to trade in mobile phone ring-tones, with Lord Browne and another executive from BP as directors.)
• A senior member of BP staff was tasked with running personal errands for Lord Browne, including delivering cash to his former lover.
• The BP chief paid for Mr. Chevalier’s studies, as well as a large sum over their four years together.
• Browne discussed EU policy and Chinese textile quotas with Peter Mandelson, the EU commissioner, and Mandelson’s Brazilian boyfriend Reinaldo.
• A flat in Venice bought by Lord Browne underwent repairs for which the building company presented two bills, one with VAT and one without. Mr. Chevalier claimed Lord Browne paid cash to “dodge” his tax bill.

The couple split in 2006 and as went Browne so (purportedly) went Chevalier’s new lifestyle, which would explain how this story got into all of London’s major newspapers (and now: Browne commented that “In my 41 years with BP I have kept my private life separate from my business life. I have always regarded my sexuality as a personal matter, to be kept private. It is a matter of deep disappointment that a newspaper group has now decided that allegations about my personal life should be made public.”
Some thoughts:
– It’s difficult to actually keep one’s private life separate from one’s business life when one’s business life is paying for one’s private life (say that five times fast).
– This may actually just be a case of the age-old American mix-up: Gay or Brit? And Chevalier is just a (well-compensated) business associate.
– Todd Thomson can’t win at anything.
– If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: if you pay for it yourself, you’re in the clear! (Source: Everyday Business, with Wayne Pace).
BP chief lied over affair with gay lover [This Is London]
BP’s CEO to Step Down Immediately Amid Revelations of Private Life [WSJ]

jimmyc.jpgJim Cramer doesn’t want you to hate the game, or the playa. And in his column in the latest issue of New York, the “game” refers to making money; the “playas,” I-bankers (and I-bank CEOs, and, more generally, I-banks). Sure, you might be saying, why shouldn’t I hate the $54 million/year Lloyd Blankfeins and the Goldman Saches of the world? Not only are they terribly unhygienic, but they make more in an hour than I do in a month (or is that just us at DB? Don’t answer that) and I’m a jealous, small and petty person (to say nothing of my unresolved issues from childhood, which probably feed into the pettiness in a vicious, never-ending circle).
You’re saying that, right? Well Big J has the answer. If you invest said “playas,” you’ll get to be part of their “game” and your resentment will disappear because when you’re rich, you can buy the antidote to resentment. Another reason you shouldn’t hate these “playas” is because Cramer used to work for Goldman Sachs and never fails to mention this (or his relationship with Spitzer, which, let’s be honest, you really can’t blame him for, because Goldman Sachs is an incredible institution and Spitzer is essentially God’s special gift to the world and politics at large). Here are some other arguments for why you should cross Lloyd, Dick and Stanley off of your To Kill lists (hint: they all have to do with their outifts making you money, and Chuck Prince having less financial acumen than Cramer’s garbage disposal):
1. These guys are basically stay-at-home moms: underpaid and, more importantly, unappreciated.

Stop envying Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein already. Don’t begrudge Bear Stearns’ Jimmy Cayne and Lehman’s Dick Fuld their millions. Let Merrill’s Stan O’Neal and Morgan Stanley’s John Mack get paid more than Croesus. You heard it here first: They deserve it. In fact, they deserve more than they earn now.
Those five men are underpaid because they are about to make you very rich if you buy their stocks.

2. They will make you Kings of Great Neck, Dukes of Roslyn with Asset Management alone. And, not to brag or anything, but if you must know, Cramer predicted Asset Management would be a major money-maker YEARS AGO, before assets were even invented. Of course, no one at 85 Broad listened to him, just like they didn’t about gravity or 9/11.

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