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RIP Andy Grove: Silicon Valley tech legend and former Intel CEO Andy Grove has died, Intel announced Monday. He was the company’s first hire in 1968 and cemented his place in Silicon Valley history by transforming Intel into the largest chip-making company in the world. Grove, who was 79 at the time of his death, battled Parkinson's disease for many years. The cause of his death has not been disclosed. Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times
Wall Street Journal
Outgoing CIT Group CEO John Thain is taking a 9% pay cut for his work in 2015, with a package valued at $7.5 million. His pay package the previous year was worth $8.3 million. The company’s board said Thain failed to meet most expectations for the closing and integration of Pasadena, Calif.-based OneWest Bank and awarded him two percentage points of the available 20% incentive pay based on that metric. “The management team and the cultures of the two organizations were not successfully integrated in a timely manner,” the bank said in its 2015 proxy. Thain will step down at the end of the month as CIT’s CEO and as chairman in May.
Former Lehman Brothers chief financial officer Erin Montella wrote a book that chronicles her side the financial meltdown. Lehman survived five months after her first earnings call as CFO. Montella describes herself on that call as a rookie firefighter going into her first burning building trying to put out the fire, only she was on her own without any participation from then-chief Richard Fuld nor then-president Joseph Gregory. Her memoirs on Wall Street also recall, regretfully, her experiences as a woman at the top of the industry who “drank the Lehman Brothers Kool-Aid,” and allowed her work to dominate her life. The ex-banker describes herself as retired now.
Santander is planning a number of voice recognition rollouts in its iPhone app for U.K. users. Customers will first be able to prompt the app in a Siri-like exchange to monitor and read back their spending activity; they can narrow the snapshot to a certain time frame, going back up to a year, or a particular merchant. In the coming six months Santander is looking to add voice commands that would allow users to verbally make payments, set up account alerts or report lost cards and further out, it’s planning to integrate voice biometrics. The bank follows HSBC and Barclays in integrating voice recognition into their apps, although they only allow their customers to sign in to accounts using voice technology. Royal Bank of Scotland is experimenting with a Siri-like artificial intelligence system for a customer service platform. Santander has seen a 48% spike in its number of mobile users over the past two years.
Lending Club is re-embracing its retail investor base. The decade-old marketplace lender that began matching individual borrowers with individual lenders has begun branching out to other wholesale channels – loaning to hedge funds and other institutional investors and signing long-term supply deals with banks – which provided about 45% of its funding last year. Now it’s refocusing on individuals and capping the wholesale portion at less than half of its total funding. “We’ve always been more exposed to retail, and I think we want to keep it that way,” said CEO Renaud Laplanche, who added that it sees that as a competitive advantage and a source of stability and predictability.
Credit Suisse is subletting some prime real estate in London’s Canary Wharf to Thomson Reuters. Bank of America Merrill Lynch previously inhabited the more than 300,000 square feet of Thames River-facing office space and will exiting Canary Wharf altogether. B of A Merrill is the latest bank to move its operations out of the U.K. capital. Credit Suisse said in October it would relocate 1,800 jobs from Canary Wharf to less expensive areas and Barclays Bank is planning to sublet its own 300,000 square feet of Canary Wharf office space, looking for cost cuts in its real estate footprint.
New York Times
New York investment banking firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods in a report Monday called on Citigroup to split itself up, in an effort to boost its stock price. Analysts estimate a split-up could increase the bank’s market value 57% to $198 billion. Among the report's suggestions for Citi are selling its Banamex unit in Mexico, breaking up its U.S. consumer and corporate units into two companies and selling its international operations. Citigroup has slimmed down in recent years, slashing costs amid a multiyear plan to simplify the company. Over the past year Citi has >exited consumer banking in South America, including in Brazil and Argentina.
The Charlotte Observer: As banks are backing away from investment in brick-and-mortar branches, Bank of America had been cutting back on its ATM network in recent years. But B of A just reported a 204 increase in ATMs in 2015, signaling a nationwide trend of banks investing in self-service technology for consumers. Last month, the Charlotte-based bank upgraded a number of its ATMs to enable smartphone authentication, instead of requiring customers to use their plastic debit cards. Machines will continue to accept cards but the bank plans to eventually enable all of them with cardless technology.