Meredith Whitney: Citigroup Should Just Give Up

Earlier today, we wondered if, in light of the news that Vikram Pandit had resigned as CEO of Citigroup, analyst Meredith Whitney's opinion of the bank had changed. Choice comments that Whitney has made about the Big C in the past have included: "Citigroup is in such a mess Stephen Hawking couldn’t turn this company around"; "Citi is like an old broken-down Victorian house"; and Citi “has no earnings power, isn’t going to grow, hasn’t been investable in four years." She also once told Maria Bartiromo that the only way she'd change her mind about company would be if she received "a new brain." Still, sometimes analysts change their tune when new blood is brought in and, like former FDIC chair Sheila Bair, perhaps some of her beef with the bank had been a personal dislike of Uncle V. Now that he's gone, is she seeing Citigroup in a new light? Not so much, no. In the wake of CEO Vikram Pandit‘s surprise departure this morning, Whitney, founder and CEO of Meredith Whtney Advisory Group LLC, issued a note cautioning clients to be wary of Citigroup even under new leadership. “Citigroup is ‘the incredible shrinking bank,’ and the least interest of the big four, in our opinion,” Whitney said. “No CEO will be able to change these facts in the near-term. It appears the board feels the same way, as they have appointed an unknown to the outside to the new CEO position, Mike Corbat.” [...] On Tuesday, the stock has wavered between gains and losses on heavy trading volume in reaction to Pandit’s resignation. Shares are up 29% this year through Monday’s close. Despite signs of incremental improvement, Whitney isn’t backing down from her bearish stance. “Any seat in Citigroup’s court should come with a warning label,” Whitney says. Meredith Whitney: No CEO Can Fix Citigroup [WSJ] Earlier: Meredith Whitney Cannot Stress Enough How Little She Thinks Of Citigroup
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Earlier today, we wondered if, in light of the news that Vikram Pandit had resigned as CEO of Citigroup, analyst Meredith Whitney's opinion of the bank had changed. Choice comments that Whitney has made about the Big C in the past have included: "Citigroup is in such a mess Stephen Hawking couldn’t turn this company around"; "Citi is like an old broken-down Victorian house"; and Citi “has no earnings power, isn’t going to grow, hasn’t been investable in four years." She also once told Maria Bartiromo that the only way she'd change her mind about company would be if she received "a new brain." Still, sometimes analysts change their tune when new blood is brought in and, like former FDIC chair Sheila Bair, perhaps some of her beef with the bank had been a personal dislike of Uncle V. Now that he's gone, is she seeing Citigroup in a new light?

Not so much, no.

In the wake of CEO Vikram Pandit‘s surprise departure this morning, Whitney, founder and CEO of Meredith Whtney Advisory Group LLC, issued a note cautioning clients to be wary of Citigroup even under new leadership. “Citigroup is ‘the incredible shrinking bank,’ and the least interest of the big four, in our opinion,” Whitney said. “No CEO will be able to change these facts in the near-term. It appears the board feels the same way, as they have appointed an unknown to the outside to the new CEO position, Mike Corbat.” [...] On Tuesday, the stock has wavered between gains and losses on heavy trading volume in reaction to Pandit’s resignation. Shares are up 29% this year through Monday’s close. Despite signs of incremental improvement, Whitney isn’t backing down from her bearish stance. “Any seat in Citigroup’s court should come with a warning label,” Whitney says.

So just, you know, pack it in. No one can fix this thing, might as well come to terms with it now. You want her to say something good about the place, shut the bank down and turn it into a Michaels crafts store. Then we'll talk.

Meredith Whitney: No CEO Can Fix Citigroup [WSJ]
Earlier: Meredith Whitney Cannot Stress Enough How Little She Thinks Of Citigroup

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Meredith Whitney Cannot Stress Enough How Little She Thinks Of Citigroup

Meredith Whitney is a banking analyst made famous by Citigroup downgrading Citigroup in late October 2007, saying that the bank was facing a $30 billion capital shortfall and later telling the press "Citigroup is in such a mess Stephen Hawking couldn’t turn this company around.” In the years since she's had less than flattering things to say about the firm and as recently as March 14, 2012, told CNBC that Citi "has no earnings power, isn't going to grow, hasn’t been investable in four years" and "is like an old broken-down Victorian house." (In the same interview, she told Maria Bartiromo that the only way she'd change her mind about the big C would be if she received "a new brain.") So it probably surprised a few people when, earlier this month, she upgraded the bank. But please, do not get the mistaken impression that she's suddenly in love with the place or has developed any feelings for it whatsoeverWhile her latest move was seen as an endorsement of Citi, Whitney said not to read too much into the call. "It certainly doesn't mean I'm running into the loving arms of Citigroup or I've become bullish on Citigroup. What it means is I don't see any near-term negative catalyst for the company," she said. "In the collective it's not that interesting of a stock." Ya hear that, Citi? Not if you were the last two people on earth! Whitney 'Wildly Bullish' on Certain US Markets, But... [CNBC]

Zen Gardens That Never Were: Vikram Pandit Doesn't Have To Put Up With This Shit Anymore

As you may have heard, earlier today, Citigroup announced that CEO Vikram Pandit would be resigning from his post at the bank, effective immediately, along with several longtime lieutenants. While the news came as a shock to Wall Street, it was assumed that on the inside, employees had been given some advanced warning and time to get used to the idea of life without Uncle Vik. That he hadn't just left in the middle of the night. That those hugs on the elevator Monday hadn't been their last. That he'd stashed something away for them to remember him by. A good-bye note. A glossy 8X10 photo to keep on their desks. SOMETHING. Apparently though, not so much. The news of Mr. Pandit's departure after five years atop the company came as a shock to Citigroup employees, including senior executives. In the firm's London office, some executives emerged from a meeting and read the news on their computers and Bloomberg terminals, well before the bank's internal memo was released. Soon a dozen employees were crowded in front of television monitors, following the story on financial business shows. Others were seen around a water cooler on the trading floor, discussing the news. Still others retreated to their desks to parse Citigroup's recent earnings release, looking for hints of internal conflict. "There's shock," said a Citigroup executive based in New York. "Even senior people were surprised." And while early reports suggested that Count Vikula had simply decided that Citigroup had come so far since he'd taken the gig five years ago that his work was done, and that while it was time to move onto the next stage of his life, he'd cherish the memories and the people he met at Citi, it now sounds like the split was a bit more acrimonious than that. Pandit abruptly stepped down following a clash with the New York company's board over strategy and operating performance at businesses including its institutional clients group, according to people with knowledge of the bank. At this time, some questions that need answering: * Does today's news change Meredith Whitney's opinion of the Big C, which, as of last April was that the thought of it still sickened her? * Where is the comment from Prince Alwaleed, AKA Citi's largest individual shareholder and Vikram's number one fan? * Is Sheila Bair happy? * Will Citi's food services employees treat new CEO Mike Corbat in the manner he's grown accustomed? The ladies who serve and prepare the food at Currier House all have crushes on senior Mike Corbat. The woman who checks off the names--the one sitting at the desk--smiles and winks at him. Then the greyish, plump one who serves the french onion dip giggles, when Corbat quips something that's not-so-funny. And during lunch, a man who also works in the dining room--he's the aged guy, with a slightly arched back who stands around in his red coat--comes over to Corbat and gives him some present all wrapped up in tinfoil. The guy in the red coat paternally pats him on the shoulder and walks away. "I just give them tickets to some of the games," he explains. You see, Mike Corbat is a 6-ft, 3-m, 230 pound dear. Whatever the case. Corbat--an all-Ivy offensive guard on the Harvard football team--may be a dear to the people who work in the dining hall, but he certainly isn't dear to his opponents. People who are dears on the field don't get contacted by at least a half-dozen teams informing him of the possibilities of his playing in the National Football League. * Could all of this have been different if those cheap fucks has just given him his Zen Garden? Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit Resigns [WSJ] Mike Corbat: All-Ivy And A Perfect Team Player [Crimson via Counterparties] Earlier: Vikram Pandit: HAPPY.AS.A.CLAM Related: "...certain design elements have been nixed since the initial planning phase, including a Zen garden."

Citigroup Investors Don't Care About Making Vikram Pandit Smile

[caption id="attachment_73871" align="alignleft" width="234" caption="Y'all can kiss this ear to ear grin good-bye"][/caption] In the spring of 2010, almost exactly two years ago to date, the New York Times reported that some of Vikram Pandit's top lieutenants had noticed "a new bounce in his step" and "a smile on his face," with one executive speculating that the Citi CEO's cheer could be attributed to the fact that he was starting to "see the day when he will earn more than $1 a year" within reach. On January 18, 2011, that day came. After essentially not receiving a salary since 2008, when he pledged to abstain from getting paid until Citi turned a profit, the board of directors approved "an increase in the annual rate of base salary for Vikram from $1 per year to $1,750,000 per year, effective immediately." It felt good. Really good. Know what doesn't? This crap. Citigroup investors rejected the bank’s executive pay plan, a first among the six largest U.S. lenders, amid criticism it lets Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit collect millions of dollars in rewards too easily. About 45 percent of the votes favored the plan, which Citigroup had argued would help attract and retain top talent, according to a preliminary tally at the New York-based firm’s annual meeting in Dallas today. While the vote isn’t binding, outgoing Chairman Richard Parsons said changes will be made. Citigroup Shareholders Reject Management’s Compensation Plan [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

Bonus Watch '12: Retired Citigroup CEOs

Uncle Vik may or may not be getting a little something extra in his stocking, depending on how generous Citi is feeling. Vikram Pandit, who stepped down yesterday as Citigroup’s chief executive officer, stands to forfeit almost $33 million in cash and stock from a retention package unless the board gives him a payout to ease his exit. Citigroup formulated a plan last year that, based on the firm’s performance so far, would have given Pandit $19 million through a profit-sharing agreement, deferred stock now valued at $9 million and $4.6 million in options, according to the terms of a May 2011 regulatory filing and data compiled by Bloomberg. The plan required Pandit, 55, to be employed at the bank through various payment dates, most of which haven’t been reached. It’s typical for CEOs who resign to forfeit previously negotiated severance and to work out an alternative payout agreement with the board, said Steven Hall, managing director of Steven Hall & Partners, a New York-based executive compensation consulting firm. Pandit getting nothing would signal that “he stood up and said, ‘I’m resigning,’” Hall said. If he gets a payout, “then the question is, did they give him that in order to smooth the path to his resignation or termination? Or did they look at him and say, ‘You know what, you did a hell of a good job during a very, very rough time, we’d like to do something nice for you,’” Hall said. Pandit Could Forgo $33 Million as Exit Voids Retention Plan [Bloomberg]

Bonus Watch '12: Ex-Citigroup CEOs

Just because they unceremoniously threw him out on his ass doesn't mean the board wants to see Vikram go home empty handed. Vikram Pandit, Citigroup' ousted chief executive officer, will get about $6.7 million in 2012 compensation and will forfeit some awards tied to a $40 million retention package granted last year. John Havens, who resigned last month as Citigroup’s chief operating officer on the same day as Pandit, will get about $6.8 million for 2012 and also forfeit some awards, the New York-based lender said today in a regulatory filing. Citigroup is the third-largest U.S. bank by assets. “Based on the progress this year through the date of separation, the board determined that an incentive award for their work in 2012 was appropriate and equitable,” Chairman Michael E. O’Neill said in the filing. “While Citi will also honor all past awards that they are legally entitled to, there are no severance payments. Awards to which they are not legally entitled have been forfeited.” Citigroup's Pandit $6.7 Million Compensation For 2012 [Bloomberg]