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Is Charles Prince's Asian Fetish The Answer To Citi's Problems?

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Chuck Prince knows that it’s always a good idea to not only be out of the country when your company is announcing its plans to fire 15,000 employees but to schedule a photo-op of you looking like there’s not a thing in the world that could get you down. Not even the news that ABC would be destroying all tapes of “Coach,” thereby shattering any dream of a second run at syndication. And we all know what a tragedy that would be. A world in which Craig T. Nelson doesn’t exist—I don’t even want to think it.
But maybe Prince can be forgiven for grinning from ear to ear yesterday, amidst the axings, as he was in New Delhi—which he’s proclaimed a “key component” in Citi’s scheme to raise international revenue to 60% of total sales, and where there are no reminders of MariaGate, or that petulant umbrella he purportedly loathed so much—his favorite place on earth. He also may have even more reason to smile, if everything in Japan goes as planned. Fortune’s Clay Chandler writes:

In Japan, Citi has put up $14 billion to gain control of scandal-tainted Nikko Cordial, Japan’s third-largest securities brokerage. That deal - the largest foreign acquisition in Japanese corporate history - would bring Citi 110 branches, 2 million customers and $250 billion in retail client assets. More importantly, though, it would transform Citi into a major investment bank power in the world’s second-largest economy and put it in position to challenge domestic leaders Nomura Holdings and Daiwa Securities.

And in China, Citi’s been one of the only foreign banks given permission to incorporate locally; they have 16 mainland branches and have plans to open another in Hangzhou, next month. Chandler notes that the bank also has long term plans to seize opportunities in Vietnam, where there’s potential in “getting in on the early stage of an economic takeoff.”
These deals together could be enough to “transform an already sprawling empire into a truly far-flung global behemoth,” Chandler says. But skepticism remains regarding how much profit the deals could actually generate, and whether they’ll do so soon enough for shareholders, who don’t believe the removal of Todd Thomson was an effective enough cost-cutting measure. Sounds like someone needs another $34 bison burger and fatherly advice.
Citi’s Prince: The Sun Never Sets on His Global Ambitions [Chasing the Dragon]