Citigroup Inc., which split itself in two this month, reshuffled senior managers on Tuesday and Chief Executive Vikram Pandit defended the company's financial soundness at an investor conference.
Michael Corbat, a 25-year Citi veteran who most recently headed the global wealth management division, was named to oversee the Citi Holdings half of the company, a group of largely troubled businesses that Citigroup separated from its core banking operations on Jan. 16, the same day it posted its fifth straight quarterly loss. In a memo to employees obtained by American Banker, Mr. Pandit said Mr. Corbat will retain oversight of wealth management.
Citi Holdings has three primary businesses: brokerage and asset management, consumer finance, and a special pool of troubled assets that the company is trying to unwind. Steve Freiberg, who had been the head of global cards, will oversee consumer finance. Rick Stuckey, a portfolio manager who has been with Citi since 2007, will run the special asset pool.
The other half of the company, Citicorp, consists of two main groups: institutional banking, for corporate, institutional, public-sector, and private banking clients; and a regional consumer banks group that provides traditional banking services.
John Havens, who previously headed Citi's institutional clients group, will lead the institutional bank.
The current heads of the regional consumer and commercial banking franchises in the United States, Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East will remain in place and assume responsibility for credit card businesses in their regions, Mr. Pandit said. The regional heads are: Terri Dial, global head of consumer strategy and CEO of consumer banking in North America; Ajay Banga, CEO, Asia-Pacific; Manuel Medina-Mora, CEO, Latin America and Mexico; William Mills, CEO, Western Europe, Middle East, and Africa; and Shirish Apte, CEO, Central, and Eastern Europe.
Also on Tuesday, Mr. Pandit, who has been at the helm of the embattled company for 13 months, vowed to return it to profitability and tried to convince skeptical shareholders that its newly elevated capital position is the best way to size up its ability to weather the recession. Citi, which has turned to the federal government for $45 billion in capital infusions, said on Jan. 16 that it lost $8.29 billion in the fourth quarter.
On Tuesday, Mr. Pandit offered few new details and did not say when he expects to get Citi back in the black. At a Citi-sponsored conference in New York, investors concerned about the plummeting value of their shares repeatedly reminded Mr. Pandit about the company's declining tangible common equity. Several large-cap banking companies' tangible common equity fell below 5% last year. Citi does not publish its tangible capital equity ratio, but Jason Goldberg, an analyst at Barclays Capital, has estimated it at 1.5%. That would make Citi's ratio one of the weakest in the sector. "Companies that have low tangible common equity ratios will have less of a cushion to combat losses," Gerard Cassidy, an analyst at Royal Bank of Canada's RBC Capital Markets Corp., said in an interview last week.
Mr. Pandit said Tuesday that tangible common equity is bound to dip along with the economy and is bound to rise as economic conditions improve. A better measure of Citi's viability, he said, is its Tier 1 capital ratio, which, after the government infusions, was 11.8% at the end of the fourth quarter. "That puts us at a level that is incredibly high," Mr. Pandit said, though he later conceded that earnings power is the best way to gauge a company's outlook, "and you don't have earnings clarity yet."