But a hedge fund manager with a virulent tongue does, and there’s some bad air between the two of them. Recently Weill, Citigroup CEO Emeritus, was quoted in the press as defending the giant bank he built. “Being large and having a strong balance sheet enables a company to withstand the financial turmoil that happens every now and then in global markets,” Weill said.
In response a former banker turned hedgie manager (of Second Curve Capital) described the company as a “supersized jackalope.” And he didn't stop there:
Why Weill thinks that investors would take comfort in that statement, I can’t begin to understand…Citi has gotten so big, and lumbering, and broadly diversified that it simply can’t generate meaningful organic growth anymore. The law of large numbers won’t allow it.
If all I wanted from my investment was an instrument that would “withstand financial turmoil” I’d simply buy Treasury bills and be done with it. Presumably Citigroup’s shareholders want something more than that.
Coming to Weill’s defense was the one other person on earth who doesn’t think Citigroup should be broken up, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal: “I am adamantly against breaking up Citigroup…I see this as a bad idea that should not even be considered.”
Portfolio's Felix Salmon has helpfully offered to arbitrate the fight. According to Salmon the problem with Citigroup is not that it's too big to grow. It's that it may be too big to manage. "If a strong leader could communicate a simple and effective vision for the company, the calls for its breakup would soon cease," Salmon writes. "But such people are hard to find."
This question doesn't really merit us making a Vizu poll, since the results will most likely be "No" (BSD) and "Yes" (everyone else), but tell us what you think, re: Should Citigroup break up?
Weill Says Big Is Beautiful; Hedge Fund Disagrees [DealBook]
Why Citigroup Should Be Broken Up - Now [Seeking Alpha]
Is Citigroup Too Big? [Portfolio]