Citigroup Inc. Senior Vice Chairman William Rhodes, who gained a reputation for international financial diplomacy in the 1980s and led the banking giant's expansion into emerging markets, will retire on April 30, ending a 53-year tenure.

Chief Executive Vikram Pandit said Rhodes pioneered the expansion of Citi into several emerging markets, including Central and Eastern Europe and China, and reopened offices in South Africa following the election of President Nelson Mandela. Citi now does business in more than 140 countries, and holds about 200 million customer accounts.

Rhodes, who spent his entire career at Citi after graduating from Brown University, gained a reputation for international financial diplomacy in the 1980s as a result of his leadership in helping manage the external-debt crisis that involved developing nations and their creditors, Citi said. During that period, and also in the 1990s, he headed committees of international banks that negotiated debt-restructuring agreements in several nations, including Mexico and Brazil.

He also aided Korea with its liquidity problems in 1998, by chairing an international banking group that negotiated the extension of short-term debt of the Korean banking system. In 1999, he acted as worldwide coordinator to help implement the maintenance of trade and inter-bank lines by foreign commercial banks in Brazil.

Upon his retirement, Rhodes will continue to serve as a senior advisor at Citi. The company, which suffered more than most large U.S. banks from the most recent financial crisis, failed to turn a profit in the fourth quarter or for the full-year.

Shares were flat at $4.08. The stock is up 23% this year.

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