Citi CFO Gerspach to depart as Corbat reshapes team

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Three longtime Citigroup executives, including Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach, are stepping down as the bank realigns its top management.

Gerspach, 65, who's been finance chief for nine years, will retire March 1, while North America head Bill Mills, 62, and Jim Cowles, 63, who runs the bank's Europe, Middle East and Africa business, plan to leave at year-end, Chief Executive Officer Mike Corbat said Tuesday in a memo to staff.

Gerspach will be succeeded by Mark Mason, 47, who's CFO of the institutional clients group, Corbat said. Gerspach was named to his current post in 2009 after previously serving as controller and chief accounting officer. Corbat praised Gerspach's role in helping the firm make progress toward financial targets and navigate increasing regulations after the financial crisis.

"He has played an unmatched role in crafting and executing a strategy to generate the returns our investors expect and deserve," Corbat, 58, said in the memo. "He has represented our company exceptionally well, not just in good times but in tough ones as well."

Succession changes

Other U.S. banks have been shaking up leadership as some prepare for succession changes. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in July that David Solomon will become CEO in October, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. this year promoted Gordon Smith and Daniel Pinto to co-presidents under CEO Jamie Dimon.

Gerspach, who joined in 1990, was known for being well informed and giving straight answers to questions, according to Jeff Harte, a Sandler O'Neill & Partners LP analyst.

"He sat in the main financial seat for a lot of change, as far as business sales and refocusing and regulatory requirements," Harte said in an interview. "He did a really good job of overseeing it all."

Mason's new post thrusts the 17-year Citigroup veteran into the spotlight. In 2011, he was appointed to fill Corbat's former role overseeing Citi Holdings, a division created to manage and sell billions of dollars in unwanted assets. Since then, Corbat has named him as CEO of the private bank and to his current job.

Mills will transfer his duties to other executives in coming months, Corbat said. Cowles is leaving to establish a not-for-profit organization at year-end, once the bank selects a successor.

Bloomberg News