Citigroup President Jamie Forese to depart, Ybarra promoted

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Jamie Forese, long considered the potential successor to Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat, is departing after 34 years at the firm.

Forese, 56, the company's president and head of Citigroup's investment-banking and trading division, will be replaced in the latter role by his deputy, Paco Ybarra, according to an internal memo. A spokeswoman for the bank in London confirmed the memo's contents.

Forese, who was named Citigroup president in 2013, had struggled to have his voice heard on strategy for the sprawling consumer division, which includes the world's largest credit-card issuer, according to a person familiar with the matter. His disappointment grew after Corbat wasn't elevated to the chairman role last year when Mike O'Neill left, a move that could have boosted Forese's influence, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel issues.

The unit that Forese oversees houses Citigroup's markets unit, its investment bank, private bank and one of the world's biggest transaction-services businesses. The division generated about half of the lender's approximately $73 billion of revenue in 2018.

Under Forese, the division has increased revenue by more than 10 percent as he focused on the so-called "accrual"-type businesses such as private banking and cash management. That's helped it weather slumps in trading.

"Under Jamie's leadership, our core accrual businesses have generated consistently strong revenue growth, and we've continued to gain share in our markets-related businesses," Corbat, 58, said in the memo. "We would not be the company we are today without his stewardship."

The firm's consumer division in recent years has been criticized by Wall Street analysts as it continually missed internal targets. The unit has started to show signs of a turnaround as the bank rolled out new digital-banking tools and turned its focus away from promotional credit-card offers.

Key departures

Forese joined Wall Street brokerage Salomon Brothers in 1985 and was named a managing director in 1992, prior to its acquisition by Citigroup, according to a biography on the lender's website. He took over the bank's equities group in 2003 before becoming chief of all trading in 2007. He graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor's degree.

In the last year, Wall Street has seen the departures of some of its biggest leaders, many of whom rose up through the investment-banking and trading businesses that have been under pressure in recent years. Morgan Stanley President Colm Kelleher, once seen as a potential successor to CEO James Gorman, said last month he'll leave at the end of June. And Bank of America Corp.'s Christian Meissner left the company in September after running its corporate and investment-banking division for most of a decade. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has also lost several senior executives, including former Co-President Harvey Schwartz and trading co-heads Isabelle Ealet and Pablo Salame.

Citigroup also said Thursday in the memo that trading executives Carey Lathrop and Andrew Morton will become co-heads of markets and securities services, taking on Ybarra's duties. Francisco Aristeguieta, who helps lead Citigroup's Asia Pacific unit, is also leaving. He will be replaced by Tim Monger on an interim basis.

Bloomberg News