The Rap on Pandit

Jay-Z has a song called "99 Problems," and Vikram Pandit must actually have 99 problems — or somewhere in that vicinity — as he tries to right the ship at Citigroup Inc. But the rap superstar and the Citi CEO have more in common than just that.

Both were honored Wednesday by the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund, at a $750-a-plate gala tribute to New York City's fallen first responders. Pandit was recognized for his "ongoing support" of the benefit fund, while Jay-Z received, along with Warner Music Group CEO Lyor Cohen, the fund's inaugural "Answer the Call" award for their efforts on behalf of the fund. (The award is named for the concert that Jay-Z, a.k.a. Shawn Carter, headlined last year on the anniversary of 9/11 to raise money for the fund; Citi offered its card customers presale tickets to the show through its Citi Private Pass program.)

"It's a privilege to honor Vikram, and recognize Jay-Z and Lyor — all influential leaders in their respective industries — for setting such an admirable example of commitment to our community," said Stephen Dannhauser, the chairman of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP and CEO of the benefit fund. "We are deeply grateful for their contributions to further awareness of the Benefit Fund's efforts on behalf of family members of New York City's finest and bravest heroes."

Florida Gold

We can't tell you how the average television viewer received a feel-good commercial from the Florida Bankers Association promoting the role of banks in the economy, but the advertising industry certainly liked it.

The spot, scripted and coordinated by FBA Communications Director Renee Thompson, won a MarCom Gold award from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.

The group typically receives 5,000 entries a year from throughout the U.S. and several other countries. About 15% receive highest honors as MarCom Platinum winners, while another 15% are recognized as MarCom Gold winners.

The FBA's commercial features two small-business owners and a community development activist — all real clients of FBA member banks — talking about how the support they have received from their banks has made their work possible.

"In a year when many have forgotten what it is we do, and we have taken it on the chin, this ad is refreshing," FBA President and Chief Executive Alex Sanchez said. See the ad at http://floridabankers.com/StaticPages/FBAwithoutVOsmall.html.

Da Bulls II

Six foot 10. Two hundred and forty five pounds. And allegedly owed an additional $3 million by Morgan Keegan & Co., a unit of Regions Financial Corp.

In September of 2009, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel awarded former pro basketball star Horace Grant $1.46 million over a dispute with the wealth management firm Morgan Keegan.

The case turned on Morgan Keegan's role in placing Grant's money into funds that invested in mortgage debt and other assets that tanked during the 2008 financial crisis, with the Finra panel agreeing that the investments were inappropriate.

Morgan Keegan, however, didn't want to put the matter to rest. It appealed — an unusual step in an arbitration case — and lost in a July federal court ruling. Then it announced it would appeal that ruling as well.

Grant — who played for the Chicago Bulls and other teams — wasn't inclined to wait.

On Nov. 2, the retiree filed a new arbitration claim for another $3 million. Morgan Keegan's delay had forced him to liquidate his NBA pension at disadvantageous terms, his lawyers argued.

A Morgan Keegan spokeswoman couldn't be reached Thursday, though in a statement to Dow Jones Newswires, she described the new claim as "completely frivolous."

Trust-Award Worthy

Roger Brown, a top executive in Synovus Financial Corp.'s trust business, has been singled out for doing a good job advising Alabama businesses and families on estate and corporate trust matters.

Brown was just awarded the Alabama Bankers Association's 2010 Alabama Trust Career Award, a top honor from the trade association.

Brown is a senior vice president and regional manager for Synovus' trust business in Birmingham, Ala. He has 38 years of trust industry experience and joined Synovus last year.

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