Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vikram Pandit and his Citi get good marks

An outside review of Citigroup Inc.'s management team has concluded that it is generally in good shape and awarded strong overall marks in particular to the banking giant's Indian American CEO Vikram Pandit, according to a media report.

The review, conducted this summer for Citigroup's board by recruiting and consulting firm Egon Zehnder International, however suggested that some shuffling of senior executives might be needed, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday citing people familiar with the matter.

The review was triggered by the government's stress tests of top banks last spring. Companies found to need more capital were required to conduct assessments of their management and report the findings to federal regulators.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which has had concerns about the qualifications of Chief Executive Vikram Pandit and his top management team, required Citigroup hire an outside firm to perform the review.

Egon Zehnder's report, delivered to Citigroup's board Friday, awarded strong overall marks to Citigroup's management team and to Pandit in particular, the Journal said.

The report provided less-favourable assessments of at least two of Pandit's lieutenants, Vice Chairman Lewis Kaden and Chief Administrative Officer Don Callahan, the Journal said citing unnamed people.

The report's encouraging tone is a departure from the frustration that some analysts, investors and Citigroup executives have expressed about Pandit's leadership since he became CEO in December 2007, the Journal said.

Among the complaints is that Pandit relies too much on a small a cadre of advisers, according to people familiar with the matter. Such frustrations have contributed to departures of some executives, the leading US financial daily said.

The FDIC's relationship with top Citigroup executives, especially Pandit and Vice Chairman Ned Kelly, has been icy since last fall, when Citigroup's plans for a government-assisted purchase of most of Wachovia Corp. fell apart, the Journal said.

Pandit has tried to address some of the FDIC's concerns by recruiting new directors and executives with commercial-banking experience. "We're now all aligned with all our regulators", Pandit said last month. "They like what they're seeing."
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