Citigroup Flees New York to Celebrate Birthday with Angry Investors

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Citigroup (C), the New York banking giant that barely survived the financial crisis, is celebrating its 200th birthday in … Dallas?

The third-largest bank by assets has recently held its April annual meetings in a midtown Manhattan hotel ballroom. While irate investors showed up in force at the get-togethers right after the financial crisis, last year's event was a sparsely attended marathon, as Citigroup executives alternately reassured shareholders about the company's recovery and listened to hours of complaints about the diminished value of their shares.

This year's meeting, scheduled for April 17, promises to be far more dramatic — and while the bank is marking its bicentennial, we suspect that the mood among attendees will be far from celebratory.

Chief executive Vikram Pandit will have to face disappointed and angry shareholders, after promising them for more than a year that Citigroup would start returning capital to them this year by raising its dividend or buying back shares. The Federal Reserve scuttled those plans this month when it said that they had caused Citigroup to fail its stress tests.

Citigroup's board "chose Dallas as the location for the annual meeting because we have a large local employee and customer base and significant shareholder population in the area," the bank's investor relations website says.

Its 2013 annual meeting will return to New York, and "the board has decided to alternate future meetings between New York City and other locations in the United States," according to the website.

The bank disclosed the Dallas location for its 2012 meeting in its annual report published earlier this month, and a Citigroup spokesman declined to comment further on Wednesday.

The Dallas meeting will also mark the official farewell of Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons, who joined the bank in 2009 to help steer it through the financial crisis. Citigroup said this month that director Michael O'Neill, currently chairman of the company's Citibank unit, is expected to replace Parsons as chairman.

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