Vikram Pandit Feels Like The Market Is Finally Showing Citi Some Love

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For the last few years or so, Citi has been shown relatively little respect by market participants. That may have had to do with the fact that the bank was not a very desirable asset, having decided during the Sandy Weill era that big is beautiful. Unfortunately the C went a little too far with the idea, making it it's business to consume everything in arm's reach. It quite literally became "too big to fail," and the only attention it got was negative. Receiving the sort of admiration and compliments afforded to a place like Goldman or JPMorgan was out of the question; the nicest thing you could say about C was it would take home plenty of ribbons at a pie eating contest-- "best digestion," etc. And Vickles ain't gonna lie the jabs stung. But now? Post-makeover that's included shedding assets, slimming down and getting back to the "core" business? Vikram is feeling hot. Regulation hottie hot. And not just when he and C look in the mirror, but in the eyes of the Street.

Pandit touted moves the bank has made to streamline its operations—winding down Citi Holdings, selling assets and improving efficiency in its global operations. The holding company was separated from Citi's general operations to get rid of the toxic assets that remained on the company balance sheet.

"...the markets are increasingly recognizing who we are..." Pandit told CNBC. The company has made progression in its global business and trading arms and will "have the market appreciate even more what Citi is," he added.

He's right of course. This is just the start. Soon, when C walks down the street, people will be yelling out "Yo Citi! [kissing noise] Gimme a piece of that, girl!" Meredith Whitney will ask friends, "Have I been drinking or does Citi look good?" Mike Mayo will make the "call me" gesture when he sees VP at the bar.

Beating them off with a stick won't even begin to describe it.

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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]

Vikram Pandit Is Committed To Getting Paid

If you didn't know Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit, you might think he enjoyed not being compensated for the work he does at Citigroup because for quite some time, he wasn't. And although the "I will only get paid $1/year until Citi turns a profit" exercise was fun for a while, he was pretty happy when the old jalopy started making money again, in part because it meant he could receive a paycheck. Then last April, his shareholders rejected the bank's executive pay plan, claiming the Big C "lets Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit collect millions of dollars in rewards too easily." And while it's possible that Citi shareholders are just a bunch of pricks who chose to overlook the fact that Uncle Vikula didn't collect squat for several years and once had an entire article written about the fact that lieutenants attributed a "new bounce in his step" to him daydreaming "the day when he is going to earn more than a $1 a year,” maybe they just assume that he doesn't care about getting paid either way? Anyway, here's Vickles, reminding anyone who forgot about the sacrifices he made and setting the record straight: “The board has this process with them, they’re going through it, and they are committed, as I am, to making sure that they resolve this,” Pandit said. “I want to get paid what the board thinks is right for me, for the job that I’ve done and for the incentives that they think I ought to have.” Pandit told lawmakers in 2009 that he would take a $1 annual salary until he restored the bank to profitability. Citigroup made a $21.7 billion profit for 2011 and 2010 combined, compared with a $29.3 billion loss for the two preceding years. “When the company was losing money, I stepped up and said I’ll take a dollar a year and I did, exactly for that reason, exactly the right thing to do,” Pandit said. For those having trouble separating the nice guy/don't want to offend anyone statement from what he's actually trying to say, a rough translation of the above would be: get me paid, bitch! Citigroup Will Resolve CEO Pay By End Of Year, Pandit Says [Bloomberg]

Former Citigroup Chairman Surprised/Not Surprised By Vikram Pandit's Departure, Has Some Vino To Sell You

According to Dick Parsons, who stepped down as chairman of Citi in March because Mike Mayo told him to, last week's news that Pandit had left the building for good was "somewhat" surprising, while at the same time, sort of expected, because whipping morbidly obese companies into shape just really isn't Vikram's thing. “You need seasoned, honed managers who can cause a 250,000, 300,000-personnel organization to march” with direction, Parsons said in a weekend interview at his Tuscan vineyard in Montalcino, Italy. “Vikram will tell you, ‘That’s not my bag.’” Pandit, 55, produced “every good idea that we had” to prevent Citigroup’s collapse during the financial crisis, Parsons said. New CEO Michael Corbat, 52, who previously ran the Citi Holdings unit, is well-equipped to lead the firm as it cuts costs and sells unwanted assets, the ex-chairman said. “Mike Corbat, who I knew back in the day when he ran the Holdings operation, is just that kind of man,” said Parsons, 64, adding that he was “somewhat” surprised by the timing of Pandit’s exit. “The transition and change was, in the long term, not inevitable but appropriate.” Anyway, who wants wine? Parsons, visiting his Il Palazzone vineyard to inaugurate a cellar, said regulatory pressures will still be a challenge for the new management team. “Externally, it’s still going to be tough,” said Parsons, sipping a glass of his 2004 Brunello Riserva as he sat outside a stone house set on an ancient trail from Frankfurt to Rome. “To some extent, the regulatory/political community is still almost at war with the big banks.” Nelson Rockefeller introduced Parsons to fine wines. He plans to turn the hobby into a profitable business by doubling production of red wines that retail in the U.S. for as much as $130 a bottle. Parsons Sipping Red Wine Calls Pandit Exit ‘Appropriate’ [Bloomberg] Earlier: Vikram Pandit And Citigroup Not Yet On Same Page Re: Who Dumped Whom; Zen Gardens That Never Were: Vikram Pandit Doesn’t Have To Put Up With This Shit Anymore

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]