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."
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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 they weren't just realizing now those hugs on the elevator Monday had been their last. That he'd stashed something away for them to remember him by. (A one dollar bill with this face on it. A glossy 8X10 photo to keep on their desks. SOMETHING.) That he hadn't just left in the middle of the night. Unfortunately for those who've grown quite attached to Vickles since he took the reigns in 2007, however, that's exactly what happened.

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 although 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 onefan?

* 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.

* Would all of this have been different if those cheap fucks had 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."

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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

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:

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]

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]

You Haven't Seen The Last Of Vikram Pandit

Perhaps, you thought, that the day Vikram Pandit was abruptly and unceremoniously fired from Citigroup was the end. That we'd lost him for good. That he'd retreat to the his Upper West Side manse and spend his days beefing up his Odd Couple memorabilia collection, or work on that novel about a love that dare not speak its name between a bank CEO and the analyst who only acted like she hated him, or build that Zen garden he'd always wanted that the fucks at Citi never let him have. That he was finished with Wall Street. Well fret not. Uncle Vik wouldn't never do that to you.

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]

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]