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In Other News, Citi Plans to Rename Its Quarterly Conference Call With Analysts to 'Lil' Vik's Happy Talk'

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Most people (or at least those who study hedge funds as closely as I do, which is to say “HF Experts”) agree that Old Lane has been among the most disappointing shops (“non blow up” category) in recent memory. So this should come as no shock:

Particularly embarrassing for new CEO Vikram Pandit—whose firm has now taken some $39 billion in write offs—Old Lane Partners, the hedge fund he founded that was acquired by Citi last year, was forced to write off $202 million in intangible assets related to its multi-strategy fund.

Still, you’d think it hurt Vikram’s pride, at least a little. And yet:



I am telling you nothing can get this man, or his stock price, down. In fact, sources tell DealBreaker that senior executives at C, capitalizing on the wonders Vik’s jolly elfin visage have done for their shares, have decided to change the firm’s tagline from “Citi… Let’s Get It Done,” to “Citi…We’re Gonna Make You Smile.”
“We feel the new motto projects the infectious good cheer that Vik spreads when he shows us those pearly whites,” said Bob Rubin, Director and Chairman of the Executive Committee. "If you buy the stock, it makes him happy. And when he's happy he smile. And when he smiles, you smile. And if you go to the Citi website at that exact moment and turn up the volume, you'll hear "The Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine" playing. Take note that when our stock declines more than 1%, the home page will be filled with the grimacing visage of Chuck Prince."
Citi Alternative Investments Posts $358M Loss [FINalternatives]
'We're Gonna Make Ya Smile' [TO]

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Vikram Pandit To Get Back In The Hedge Fund Saddle Again, At Some Point

Just a question of which hedge fund he'll be riding-- his own or his former Old Lane colleague's. The buzz on Wall Street is that ousted Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit will return to the hedge-fund world. UK hedge fund Portman Square Capital declined to comment on chatter that its founder, Sutesh Sharma, is eager to nab Pandit for his new firm. Sharma, a former money manager at Pandit’s now defunct Old Lane hedge fund, launched Portman this year with $500 million...Pandit is viewed by the hedge fund community as a rainmaker due to his ties to deep-pocketed investors. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt the timing was right to join an existing fund . . . or start his own fund,” said Robert Olman of hedge-fund search firm Alpha Search Advisory Partners. Thinking ahead, how much do we predict Citi will pay to acquire Portman Square (or Pandit Partners) in order to lure Big Vik back, which is kind their thing? Last time around it was $800 million so they'll probably have to offer at least $2bn. Pandit Packing For London Hedges [NYP via FINalternatives]

Vikram Pandit Not Feeling Sandy Weill's Break-Up The Banks Call

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 it needing firefighters to use a giant pulley system to lift it out of bed and get around every day. Pandit said Citi, formed in Mr Weill’s time with mergers such as the acquisition of Travelers in 1998, had already gone back to the basics of banking, and aside from some global markets businesses had sold most of the units from that deal. “What’s left here is essentially the old Citicorp,” he told the Financial Times. “That’s a tried and proven strategy. Why did it work? Because it was a strategy based upon operating the business and serving clients and not a strategy based on dealmaking. That’s the fundamental difference.” So we're all on the same page here. Citi Chief Rejects Calls For Bank Splits [FT]

Mike Corbat's Wife Is Gal-Pals With The Wife Of One Of The Guys Abruptly Fired The Day He Was Named CEO, And Other Things Making His First 100 Days At The Top Awkward

Over at the Journal today you will find a story called "Awkward Spot For Citi's CEO," which details the various awkwardness encountered by Mike Corbat since he took over as Chief Executive Officer, following Vikram Pandit's awkward ousting. There is also a delightful bonus round of awkwardness that comes as a postscript to the article, but we'll get the that later. First, why are things slightly awk for Corbat? Well, for starters, he knew that Pandit was going to be unexpectedly and unceremoniously fired long before VP did, including the entire time they were on a business trip together. The whole time they were flying over there together, having dinner together, meeting with clients together, taking in shows and doing touristy things when they had downtime from the conference together, he knew Pandit was about to get hit by a truck. No one blames Corbat for Vickles getting canned but, at the same time, there is a feeling by a few at Citi that you'd have to be some kind of monster to look a person in the eye and say "Sure, a trip the the Zen Temples sounds great," and take in the cherry blossoms and drink sake and do karaoke and fight over who is Scarlett Johansson and who is Bill Murray with him all the while knowing what was going to happen when you got home. For Vikram Pandit, a trip to Tokyo for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank conference last month seemed routine. But Michael Corbat, the longtime Citigroup executive who joined Mr. Pandit there, knew better. Unbeknown to Mr. Pandit, Citigroup Chairman Mike O'Neill had told Mr. Corbat that the board could seek Mr. Pandit's resignation as chief executive and hand the job to Mr. Corbat, according to people familiar with the situation. A day after Messrs. Pandit and Corbat returned to New York, that is exactly what happened. A host of financial, competitive and regulatory issues confronts the 52-year-old Mr. Corbat atop the nation's third-biggest bank by assets. But no task is more critical than soothing workers unsettled by the way the board ousted Mr. Pandit and his longtime right-hand man, John Havens, who ran the investment bank and served as president and chief operating officer. The effort is made even more delicate by Mr. Corbat's proximity to Mr. Pandit in the days before the coup. Executives say they don't blame Mr. Corbat for Mr. Pandit's overthrow, though some wondered how Mr. Corbat was able to sit through the IMF meetings knowing what was to unfold. Additionally awkward is the fact that there has been chatter around the office and scrawled on the walls of the men's room that there's only enough room in this Citi for one guy named Mike, and it's not Corbat. Adding to Mr. Corbat's challenges is the perception among some insiders that he is overshadowed by Mr. O'Neill. Employees have privately joked that of the two Mikes, it is Mr. O'Neill who is truly in charge. People close to Mr. O'Neill dispute that notion and say he has spent little time at his Citigroup office in the past month. Finally, you have the awkwardness of Mike not only knowing his colleague Vikram was going to be fired, but that his colleague and friend, John Havens, was getting the boot himself, which may or may not have caused auxiliary awkwardness for Corbat on the home front. Mr. Corbat's position is all the more awkward given his close personal relationship with Mr. Havens. The two men spent time together outside of work, occasionally vacationing with their wives at Mr. Havens' Scotland estate. All good examples of things that could be characterized as awkward to be sure. But! The absolute most wonderful bit of awkwardness to be found in "Awkward Spot For Citi's CEO," is, without question, this: