Citi Splits Its Helm: Pandit CEO, Bischoff Nonexecutive Chairman

| About: Citigroup Inc. (C)

Citigroup (NYSE:C) named Vikram Pandit CEO Tuesday. Pandit previous headed its institutional clients group, and is a former Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) capital markets executive. Citi also said Sir Win Bischoff will take over as "nonexecutive chairman."

"I will work closely with Win, Bob and Citi's board and management to assure that our strategy, structure, scale and diversification position the company for growth," Pandit said. "Simplifying the company's organizational structure and aligning our businesses and resources with appropriate goals and economic realities will be among our initial priorities."

"To some extent, the resolution of this situation will help because Citigroup has been leaderless for a while and this will at least give them some clarity. Although splitting it continues the ambiguity," economist Milton Ezrati commented following the move. Northstar's Henry Asher, conversely, saw the responsibility split as a positive: "This is the model these institutions need and want to have -- someone in a position of operating power and a non-executive chairman to oversee the bigger picture."

Long-time shareholder and critic William Smith was disgusted by the move: "It's disappointing. Pandit is probably a decent manager but he is a segment manager. He is not a CEO. Win Bischoff is an absolute disgrace -- he has absolutely no reason to be even near the chairmanship. This is Citigroup. What is going to have to happen here is you are probably going to have to continue to see big mess-ups."

Citigroup shares fell sharply after the announcement, which coincided with the Fed's 0.25% rate cut (full story) that sent equity markets down sharply (full story). They are currently down 4.4% to $33.24.

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