Is Citi’s Board Reading The Papers To Find A New Chief Executive?

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The Citi board of directors has powerful connections in the executive suites of corporate America and all across the upper echelons of Wall Street. But they seem to be having trouble locating a broad range of candidates to fill the spot vacated by Chuck Prince’s sudden departure. They are said to be actually reading articles in the financial press to search for possible candidates.
“Despite the long-standing agitation against the former CEO, the board was totally caught unprepared by the need to suddenly locate a replacement,” one executive search consultant familiar with the situation said.
“They are literally scanning the financial press for ideas,” another consultant told DealBreaker. As far as the consultant was aware, the directors were not seriously considering asking any long-dead genocidal dictators to run the bank.
Additional factors are complicating the search for a replacement chief executive. In the last decade and a half, Citi has become such a large and complicated corporate organization that there are few executives who have experience running a firm with so many different businesses and challenges.
“They’re probably wishing they still had Jamie Dimon around,” we said to ourselves as we typed those words.
Jamie Dimon had long been thought to be the heir apparent to Sandy Weill, until he was acrimoniously forced out by his long time mentor. The exact circumstances of Weill’s falling out with Dimon are still disputed and unclear. Dimon is now head of JPMorgan Chase, a Citi competitor whose stock has performed much better in recent years. It is unlikely he could be convinced to return to the bank that exiled him.
In addition, the close timing of the ouster of Prince with the forced retirement of Stan O’Neil, who ran Merrill Lynch until two weeks ago, makes finding candidates harder. The two companies are both considering many of the same candidates, Charlie Gasparino reported on CNBC today.
One candidate who has been discussed is Morgan Stanley John Mack. Gasparino reported this morning that Mack is now telling people that he is not interested in running either Merrill Lynch of Citi.
CEO Hunt [CNBC.com]

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