When Mike O'Neill's 72nd birthday began to loom on the calendar, Citigroup CEO - and "Basic White Man" stock photo model - Mike Corbat must have gazed out his office window across the Hudson River at the grand expanse of New Jersey and allowed himself to dream, perhaps for just a moment, that it was his turn to grab the second brass ring and use it to pull himself into the exalted "Ampersand Society."
Corbat must have felt his face contort into the unfamiliar shape of a grin as he did the math. O'Neill was about to be mandated out by his age, making him perhaps the last Citi chairman to keep the title out of Corbat's hands. With O'Neill gone and the finance sector suddenly free of any need to pretend that it gives a shit about how things look, this would be the moment for Citi's council of elves to just give Corbat the "Chairman & CEO" gig, the golden double, the thing that would make him peers with the men that were supposed to be his peers.
Jamie has it. Lloyd had it and will pass it to DJ D-Sol for Christmas, Gorman has it, and all the tech boys seem to make it commonplace. Hell, even Moynihan somehow got it. Stumpf doesn't have it, but that's the least of his worries. Same for Tidjane, Staley and whatever schmuck is running Deutsche these days.
"Why not me?" Corbat likely mused to himself as his fingertips gently touched the cold glass of the floor-to-ceiling window. "Why not now?" he whispered to himself as raindrops lashed against the grey sky, tiny potent reminders that everything changes.
The board of Citigroup Inc. on Monday named one of its independent members to be its new chairman, keeping the post separate from current Chief Executive Officer Mike Corbat.
John C. Dugan, 63, a former bank regulator and former lawyer to the Citigroup board who became a Citigroup director last year, will succeed Mike O’Neill on Jan. 1, the company said.
Ouch. A dream deferred.
What's it gonna take to get Mike Corbat one of those gold jackets with the velvet ampersand over the breast pocket? Has he not been as obvious as Mike Corbat can be that he wants this?
Corbat, 58, had not asked to be considered chairman after concluding that Citigroup’s current separation of the post from his management job is best, a person familiar with his view said.
Poor Mike, he has been as obvious as he can be. Telling the chairman of the board that he "doesn't want" the gig because he wants what's best for the bank is the thirstiest we've ever heard Corbat act. Courteously acting against his own self-interest in service of the greater whole is what we assume Mike Corbat does when he's flirting.
How did O'Neill not see the hunger? Has Corbat been avoiding him like a corporate coquette, enticing him to want him even more?
Corbat and O’Neill had discussed the question over the past year, said the person, who declined to be quoted talking about the private conversations.
Oy vey, this sounds tragically fraught. The subtext in those conversations must have been unbearable. Is there anything Corbat can do to make sure that Dugan is his last last chairman? Shout if you hear us, Big Corbs:
In the statement from Citigroup, Dugan said, “I am confident in Mike Corbat and his team’s ability to continue to improve returns for its shareholders.”
Corbat said, “Citi and our shareholders have been well served by having an independent chairman.”
Damn, Corbat, turn down the desperation. Anyone who wants it this bad is never going to fit in at the Ampersand Society.