This year, John S. Reed lost the distinction of running the nation's largest banking company.

But while Citicorp has fallen to second in the asset derby behind the new Chase Manhattan Corp., the fruits of chairman Reed's labor were evident on the income statement's top line.

While other banks struggle to increase revenues, $271.9 billion-asset Citicorp has been posting revenue growth of nearly 10%, ahead of Chase's pace.

The reasons for this growth are not secret, either. Citicorp's unique strategy of carving modest shares in global marketplaces has set it apart from its peers.

"I always call it the largest small bank in the world," said Robert B. Albertson, an analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co. "It has minor shares in so many countries that it really has a very unrestrained revenue future."

Those who have watched Citicorp wriggle from a slew of bad real estate loans in the early 1990s give credit to the 57-year-old Mr. Reed, who seems to have hit his stride after 12 years as chairman. Mr. Reed has offered evidence that his goal of turning Citi into the global McBank is within reach.

By most accounts, he has done so with a ready wit. At a public address last year, Mr. Reed was asked about how Citicorp's status would be affected by the merger of Chase and Chemical Banking Corp.

"He said, 'In no way do we think we're the No. 2 bank.'" recalled David S. Berry of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. "It was just this sort of acid delivery. It was terrific."

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