Uncle Vik may or may not be receiving a little something extra for his trouble, depending on how generous Citi is feeling. Read more »
There’s a thing called “corporate governance” which you might think means like “the practice of running a corporation in a good way instead of a bad way” but you would be wrong. You can tell because the consensus is that Citi has displayed good corporate governance by making a chaotic demoralizing mess of firing Vikram Pandit in disgrace and/or regretfully accepting his voluntary resignation and/or other. Here’s Felix Salmon:
The CEO’s job is to run the bank, to answer to the board, and to get fired if he doesn’t perform. Which is what seems to have happened with Pandit.
Meanwhile, further downtown, the exact opposite is happening. Where Citi’s powerful board acted decisively after yet another set of weak results, Goldman’s powerless board is simply sitting back and watching their bank report a much more solid set of earnings …
[W]hile investors care about earnings first and foremost, they also want to know that they’ll ultimately receive those earnings, rather than just seeing them disappear into the pockets of management, or be wasted on silly acquisitions. Governance matters. And on that front, if on few others, Citi can credibly claim to be leagues ahead of Goldman.
I say unto you that one or the other of these statements can be true, but not both:
- “Governance matters.”
- “on that front, if on few others, Citi can credibly claim to be leagues ahead of Goldman.”
Earlier today, we wondered if, in light of the news that Vikram Pandit had resigned as CEO of Citigroup, analyst Meredith Whitney’s opinion of the bank had changed. Choice comments that Whitney has made about the Big C in the past have included: “Citigroup is in such a mess Stephen Hawking couldn’t turn this company around“; “Citi is like an old broken-down Victorian house“; and Citi “has no earnings power, isn’t going to grow, hasn’t been investable in four years.” She also once told Maria Bartiromo that the only way she’d change her mind about company would be if she received “a new brain.” Still, sometimes analysts change their tune when new blood is brought in and, like former FDIC chair Sheila Bair, perhaps some of her beef with the bank had been a personal dislike of Uncle V. Now that he’s gone, is she seeing Citigroup in a new light? Read more »
Point: “This was decided yesterday afternoon. I made the decision. I talked to [Citigroup Chairman] Mr. O’Neill. I don’t believe in having lame-duck sessions, in having the outgoing CEO looking over the shoulder of the incoming CEO.” Counterpoint: “Citigroup directors ousted Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit after concluding that he had mismanaged operations, leading to setbacks with regulators and a loss of credibility with investors, a person with knowledge of the discussions said.”
As you may have heard, earlier today, Citigroup announced that CEO Vikram Pandit would be resigning from his post at the bank, effective immediately, along with several longtime lieutenants. While the news came as a shock to Wall Street, it was assumed that on the inside, employees had been given some advanced warning and time to get used to the idea of life without Uncle Vik. That they weren’t just realizing now those hugs on the elevator Monday had been their last. That he’d stashed something away for them to remember him by. (A one dollar bill with this face on it. A glossy 8X10 photo to keep on their desks. SOMETHING.) That he hadn’t just left in the middle of the night. Unfortunately for those who’ve grown quite attached to Vickles since he took the reigns in 2007, however, that’s exactly what happened.
The news of Mr. Pandit’s departure after five years atop the company came as a shock to Citigroup employees, including senior executives. In the firm’s London office, some executives emerged from a meeting and read the news on their computers and Bloomberg terminals, well before the bank’s internal memo was released. Soon a dozen employees were crowded in front of television monitors, following the story on financial business shows. Others were seen around a water cooler on the trading floor, discussing the news. Still others retreated to their desks to parse Citigroup’s recent earnings release, looking for hints of internal conflict. “There’s shock,” said a Citigroup executive based in New York. “Even senior people were surprised.”
And although early reports suggested that Count Vikula had simply decided that Citigroup had come so far since he’d taken the gig five years ago that his work was done, and that while it was time to move onto the next stage of his life, he’d cherish the memories and the people he met at Citi, it now sounds like the split was a bit more acrimonious than that. Read more »
Sheila Bair Isn’t Gonna Lie To You: She Had Actual Dreams About Burning Citigroup To The Ground Circa 2008, Though She Would Have Settled For Seeing Vikram Pandit Fired In The Middle Of Times Square. Which, If We’re Continuing To Be Frank Here, She Lobbied Quite Hard For.By Bess Levin
Sheila Bair, who served as chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp during the crisis and its aftermath, levelled fresh attacks at Mr Geithner, the Obama administration, fellow financial regulators and bankers such as Vikram Pandit, Citi’s chief executive, in a new book that has laid bare policy disagreements of the past few years…Ms Bair criticises Mr Pandit for a lack of commercial banking experience and says she tried to force him out. Ms Bair was “pushing hard” for Jerry Grundhofer, former chief executive of US Bancorp, to replace Mr Pandit. Citi’s board “could have done so much better than Pandit,” Ms Bair wrote…Taxpayers were unnecessarily put at risk and Citi, despite its weakness at the time, was allowed to avert nationalisation, a forced reorganisation or meaningful restrictions on its activities, Ms Bair alleges. “The public justifiably wanted retribution. Citi should have been led to the pillory,” Ms Bair writes. [FT via Heidi Moore]
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. Read more »
Fuck with Count Vikula at your own risk. Read more »