Citigroup's (NYSE: C) ouster of Chief Executive Vikram Pandit has not quelled shareholder unrest.
Two investors have urged Citigroup to explore the sale of some business units, and consider other streamlining options, to increase shareholder value.
Trillium Asset Management, on behalf of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, and the AFSCME Employees Pension Plan recently filed a shareholder proposal with the New York company. It asks Citigroup's board to consider "a possible separation of one or more of its business units," the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said Wednesday in a news release.
Mark Costiglio, a spokesman for Citigroup, declined to comment on the proposal but defended the company's track record of restructuring.
"Citi has sold more than 60 businesses and reduced assets in Citi Holdings by more than $600 billion since the credit crisis began," Costiglio said in an email to American Banker. "Our capital levels are among the highest in the industry, and we expect to continue to build capital by generating earnings in our core banking businesses and by continuing to reduce non-core assets."
In April shareholders rejected the bank's executive compensation plan during its annual meeting. The nonbinding vote came about a month after it was announced that Citigroup failed the Federal Reserve's stress test, if it returned additional capital to shareholders as planned. The company eventually resubmitted a capital plan that did not increase dividends or include stock repurchases.
Pandit unexpectedly resigned in October, a day after the bank reported generally positive results for the third quarter. He was replaced by longtime Citigroup veteran Michael Corbat. It was disclosed on Friday that Pandit would receive $6.7 million in pay for 2012.
Trillium and AFSCME argued that the company's shares have consistently traded below book value since late 2008. They also mentioned the bank's failing the stress test and noted that regulators have prevented it from returning significant capital to stockholders.
"Despite some positive steps taken since the start of the financial crisis, we believe Citigroup's progress toward simplifying and de-risking its business has been slow and incomplete. Citigroup boasts many attractive attributes but remains burdened by excessive complexity, as well as the stigma and risks associated with being named a 'too big to fail' institution," Matthew Patsky, the CEO of Trillium, said in a news release. "These factors could threaten stockholder return through breakdowns in risk management, increased regulatory scrutiny, higher litigation expense, greater capital requirements and poor public perception, among other challenges."
The resolution requests that the board appoint a committee of independent directors to explore "extraordinary transactions that could enhance stockholder value, including the separation of one or more of Citigroup's businesses." AFSCME and Trillium requested that the committee's analysis be publicly reported after the company's annual meeting next year.
"There is a gap of almost $50 billion between what Citi says its assets are worth and what the market is saying," Lee Saunders, chairman of the AFSCME Employees Pension Plan's Board of Trustees, said in the same news release. "It is high time that the board gave shareholders a plan for recovering this value."