Dick Parsons

Two weeks ago, former Citigroup chairman Dick Parsons was named interim CEO of the LA Clippers, following the broadcasting of some unintelligible racist rambling that were somehow supposed to be foreplay by its owner, Donald Sterling. Over at Deadspin today, you will find a long investigative piece on Parsons’s career. It has nothing to do with his time at Citi, or at Time Warner, or at Dime Savings Bank of New York, or Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler before that.

Instead, it’s about his college basketball career at the University of Hawaii. The issue is that while Parons has spoken extensively over the years about his days on the court, it appears that there are no records of anyone with his name playing basketball at the school during his time there, nor do any of the players remember him, making statements by Parsons like, “I did okay in the fall semester, ’cause there was basketball, right?” and ” The basketball team became my extended family and my friends” slightly troubling, as are comments about how his grades suffered because he was too busy working and playing basketball, in addition to the many past profiles that talk about his days on the team.

All of this might lead one (or many) to conclude that, at least when it comes to this subject, Dick Parsons is a pathological liar (or, for unclear reasons, there is a vast Hawaiian conspiracy to bury Parsons’s basketball career). If you’re not ready to write the guy off, though, and personally, we are not, there seem to be some obvious and, we might add, entirely believable explanations that clear everything up. Read more »

“You’re a farmer. You can’t control the weather. When you make a Brunello, you have to follow a set of rules. One is no interference with nature. You can’t irrigate in a dry year. I happen to like traditional methods. I’m kind of old school. If you’re someone who balks at following rules, you can still make wine, but you can’t call it a Brunello. You might want a vineyard in Napa Valley instead.” [BusinessWeek]

According to Dick Parsons, who stepped down as chairman of Citi in March because Mike Mayo told him to, last week’s news that Pandit had left the building for good was “somewhat” surprising, though, if you really think about it, not so surprising, as whipping morbidly obese companies into shape just really isn’t Vikram’s thing. Even he’ll tell you that.

“You need seasoned, honed managers who can cause a 250,000, 300,000-personnel organization to march” with direction, Parsons said in a weekend interview at his Tuscan vineyard in Montalcino, Italy. “Vikram will tell you, ‘That’s not my bag.’” Pandit, 55, produced “every good idea that we had” to prevent Citigroup’s collapse during the financial crisis, Parsons said. New CEO Michael Corbat, 52, who previously ran the Citi Holdings unit, is well-equipped to lead the firm as it cuts costs and sells unwanted assets, the ex-chairman said. “Mike Corbat, who I knew back in the day when he ran the Holdings operation, is just that kind of man,” said Parsons, 64, adding that he was “somewhat” surprised by the timing of Pandit’s exit. “The transition and change was, in the long term, not inevitable but appropriate.”

Anyway, who wants wine? Read more »

  • 02 Mar 2012 at 4:59 PM

Dick Parsons Actually Gives Mike Mayo What He Wants

Is Mike Mayo the most powerful man on Wall Street, able to bend CEOs and bank chairmen to his will with the greatest of ease? If you’d asked earlier this week or even yesterday we would have said, “Well he does have a varsity analyst jacket but eh.” Today? The answer is we have no idea but Dick Parsons is certainly helping make that case by not only complying with Mayo’s demands but doing so on his specified time schedule. [WSJ, Earlier: “I think that Parsons should leave in the next two weeks,” said Mayo on Feb. 23]

For the last several years, Mike Mayo has had a fairly contentious relationship with Citigroup. Since telling investors to pull their money and run in October 2007, he’s warned people the bank is not to be trusted, detailed what he believes are Vikram Pandit’s cruel and unfeeling ways, and bitched about the fact that their ATMs still require you to use envelopes for deposits. Most recently Mayo took aim at Citi chairman Dick Parsons and while he gets points for dramatic effect, one can’t but help feel that a certain other analyst would’ve made more of a ripple. Read more »

  • 21 Apr 2011 at 5:21 PM

Dick Parsons Assigns Vikram Pandit Some Homework

“We’re not up to the level of earnings and profitability and sustained, responsible growth we know we can get this thing to,” Parsons told CNBC, ahead of the bank’s annual meeting in New York City. “I think that’s the assignment for this year.” [CNBC]

As the Chairman of Citigroup, a position he’s held since February 2009, Dick Parsons sticks out a bit by comparison. Whereas Citi has at times been the world’s largest bloated, lumbering, diversified cathouse where, for a good while, nothing could go right, a highly flammable entity prone to one chaotic moment of shit hitting the fan after the next, that few wanted to get within 100 feet of Parsons is calm. Cool. “Flat-out smooth,” as BusinessWeek describes him (which is why he was hired to be the one to go make nice with Washington, according to Vikram Pandit). The magazine recently accompanied Dick to a jazz club where they got to know him a little better, on a personal level. Here’s what we’ve learned about DP:

* He thinks the city smoking ban sucks: “Michael E. Novogratz, a director of Fortress Investment Group, a New York hedge fund, gives Parsons a hug and presents him with a Montecristo cigar. Parsons looks pleased. “Oh man,” he says, “I wish we could light these up in here.”

* If you’ve lost ass-ton of money, he’s the guy you turn to for a pick-me-up: Novogratz and Parsons exchange condolences about the market, which is zig-zagging with the turmoil in the Middle East. “I lost more money this week than I did in any week in 2008,” Novogratz laments. Parsons tells him not to be so hard on himself. “Nobody knows what’s going on,” he says.

* Charm like this doesn’t need an undergraduate degree: He went to the University of Hawaii, where he partied more than he studied. After four years, he still needed six credits to get his diploma, but he discovered that if he aced his pre-law exams he could get into law school in New York state without a college degree. He did well on the test and was accepted to Albany Law School, where he graduated at the top of his class. Read more »

Pretty simple, really: nobody else has the skills to destroy investment banks, investor capital, etc. You think any shmoe on the corner could do that? I think not. Just like the NFL. Read more »