"The patience of shareholders is getting thin I'm patient, but enough is enough," Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Citigroup's largest single and occasionally, fabulously critical shareholder said back in 2006, when the bank reported lower than expected earnings. It came as a surprise today, then, after CEO Chuck Prince's announcement that he expected profits this quarter to have fallen by 60 percent and the bank's generally poor performance has had industry-watchers and analysts calling for his head for quite some time now, that Alwaleed did not take this opportunity to lay his smackdown on the CEO but held his arms open for a hug. "I'm backing the management of Citi and Chuck Prince. They have my full support," he told the Journal this morning, referring to the loss as a "hiccup". Which totally reminds us of how whenever Lindsay Lohan has to go rehab, her publicist says it's "exhaustion."
And come to think of it, much like Lindsay's aforementioned publicist, he's been eerily consistent with his turns of phrase...
In 2005, after the Japanese private banking scandal, Alwaleed told Bloomberg News: "This company is a giant. You have to give him time to institute his culture and way of thinking. I'm backing them all the way."
And he told the Post that same year: "The firmness of Chuck Prince has been proven beyond any doubt," adding that "any action Chuck Prince takes, we'll back him up."
And in 2004, when Prince and Sandy Weill paid $2.7-billion to WorldCom shareholders in order to avoid a lawsuit, he said: "I'm backing them all the way."
Yikes. Good thing Alwaleed wasn't the judge in charge of sentencing Britney Spears. He probably would have let her keep the kids.