Citigroup Inc., the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets, is likely to step up efforts to return capital to shareholders in 2012 after resuming dividend payments this year, the company's largest individual shareholder said.
"Citigroup has announced publicly that 2012 will be the year of returning shareholders' capital," Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal told reporters in Kuwait on Monday.
"No doubt that the 1 cent dividend is very symbolic and for the short term," he said.
Prince Alwaleed, the chairman of the Saudi Arabian investment firm Kingdom Holding Co., owns a 0.75% stake in Citigroup, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
Citigroup spokesman Jon Diat declined to comment.
Citigroup said on March 21 that it would resume paying a quarterly dividend of 1 cent per share in the second quarter after a 1-for-10 reverse stock split.
The company hasn't paid a quarterly dividend since 2009, when the financial crisis eroded its capital. Citigroup accepted a $45 billion bailout and taxpayers guaranteed more than $300 billion of its risky assets.
Citigroup's chief executive, Vikram Pandit, said during a Jan. 18 conference call that returning capital to shareholders, either through a dividend or repurchasing common stock, was "a 2012 thing."
Prince Alwaleed said Monday: "No doubt, Citigroup is on the right track. Citigroup is doing very well these days."
Earlier this month, Citigroup reported first-quarter net income of $3 billion, or 10 cents a share, which was more than double the net income reported for the fourth quarter, but down 32% from a year earlier. The results included costs associated with reclassifying $12.7 billion of assets.
Compared with a year earlier, revenue was down 22% and expenses were 7% higher.