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:
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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 in Tokyo 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 being 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 guy 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. However, the absolute most wonderful bit of awkwardness to be found in "Awkward Spot For Citi's CEO," is, without question, this:

An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted Mr. Corbat as saying that upon learning he would become CEO, his emotions ran the gamut from "happiness to fear." He said his emotions ran the gamut from "happiness to feeling humbled."

Funny how the ear will hear "fear" when it wants to hear fear. Can you imagine being a reporter and thinking you heard the the CEO of a bank, as in the guy or girl for whom ninety-five percent of the job is expressing confidence, comment that his emotions upon hearing he'd been given the gig ran from "happiness" to "more scared than I've ever been in my fucking life? I mean, truly, I felt like I was going to lose my lunch right then and there. Like I was actually going to be sick. Run Citigroup, are you joking? I went back into my office and took the next hour to focus on breathing, by blowing into a paper bag. In and out, in and out. Yeah, it would be fair to I was freaking out, big time, and not in a good way, like I was excited, freaking out like there's a car, it's about to go off a cliff and I'm in driver's seat freaking out. Still am, to be honest." As that reporter, you'd probably be pretty excited, an emotion that would later turn to less excited once you got a call from someone at Citi requesting, probably not nicely, that you fix the your article so it doesn't incorrectly quote their CEO as saying the thought of running the company gave him the actual runs. In fairness, you can see how the mistake might have been made but still: awkward!

Awkward Spot For Citi's CEO [WSJ]
Earlier: Citi Said That Vikram Pandit Resigned Voluntarily Because That Is Corporate For “We Fired Him”; Vikram Pandit And Citigroup Not Yet On Same Page Re: Who Dumped Whom

Related

Mike Corbat's Got Two Choices For Citigroup Employees

Choice number one: everyone starts earning more money for the bank, following an exhilarating pep rally run by Corbat in the cafeteria involving senior executives shooting Citi swag into the crowd out of tee-shirt guns, cheerleaders, and  a Spartacus Workout demo and before/after shots of MC, meant to inspire people and show them what they're capable of if they really put their minds to something. Choice number two: Bank of America-style layoffs. Michael Corbat, new chief executive officer, says he wants to run a more efficient bank. That means rousing or cutting one of Wall Street’s least productive workforces. Citigroup generated about $206,000 of revenue for each employee through the first nine months of the year, down 7.5 percent from the same period in 2011, while rivals including Wells Fargo & Co. posted increases, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Excluding a one-time writedown of $4.7 billion, Citigroup’s productivity rose less than 1 percent...“It’s likely they will have some sort of headcount- reduction program more in line with Bank of America, which is looking to get rid of about 10 percent of employees,” said Erik Oja, an equities analyst at Standard & Poor’s in New York. “Having the lowest revenue per employee is something they will have to address, and growing the revenues is pretty tough right now with net interest margins falling and loan growth so low.” Pandit probably was distracted from his cost-cutting goal as he grappled with public rebukes while trying to sell unwanted assets, said David Knutson, a credit analyst with Legal & General Investment Management America in Chicago, which owns Citigroup debt. Disposing of Citi Holdings assets remains “the elephant in the room,” he said. “He had a lot of plates in the air, and there were a couple of setbacks,” Knutson said. “Expense cuts are painful, and you’ve got to gore some sacred cows,” Knutson said. “You can’t do that if you don’t have an explicit mandate, if you don’t have focus and you’re hamstrung with legacy issues.” Citigroup Productivity Worst of Big Banks Shows Challenge [Bloomberg] Earlier: Mike Corbat Will Torch The Fat Off Citi Like He Torched The Fat Off His Abs

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."

Layoffs Watch '12: Citigroup Has Begun The First Phase Of Its Total Body Makeover

Back in October, new Citi CEO Mike Corbat's personal trainer predicted that Vikram Pandit's replacement would waste no time whipping the place into shape, just like he whipped himself into shape in 2010 with the fat-torching Spartacus Workout. Whereas someone else might've let the bank have until the new year to get serious, allowing for one last season of pigs in a blanket and egg nog and late night pizza and entire gingerbread houses, Citi's day's of "I'll start the diet tomorrow" are over. Corbat's  transformation plan starts TODAY.