Citigroup Shareholder Meeting a Garish Circus of Despair, Basically


Like a community-theater troupe performing for a Broadway scout, Citigroup apparently gave this morning's shareholder meeting everything it had. Though the mood was somber, according to the AP, CEO Vikram Pandit "tried to bring a more upbeat atmosphere to the ballroom at the New York Hilton hotel" by singing an uplifting tune about the giant monstrosity that is his bank.

“I believe to my core that Citigroup has what it takes to rebound, what it takes to rebuild.”

Then Chairman Dick Parsons came on and made a few jokes.

When a shareholder asked if any government representatives were in attendance, he said to laughter from the audience: “If they’re foolish, they can raise their hand.”

Ha! Then someone asked how many of the directors onstage bought Citi when it was down to a dollar a share last month

“I wish I had,” Mr. Parsons said with a chuckle.

But although some investors came ready to party — one was wearing "a bedazzled red satin cap," according to the news service — overall, the audience did not respond as well as the company hoped.

Evelyn Y. Davis, a long-time shareholder who every year takes several trips to the microphone, called the Citi Field deal the “most stupid thing” and a waste of shareholder money.

Other shareholders called the board “Byzantine,” “communist” and “socialist.”

Mr. Steiner said it is ridiculous that a board composed of chief executives and former chief executives gets a say in Citigroup executive’s compensation while shareholders do not.

“It’s like having the Yankees determine the salary of the Mets,” he said.

When the bank’s chairman, Richard D. Parsons, recognized the five departing members of the board, who include ex-chairman Winfried F. W. Bischoff and the former Treasury secretary, Robert W. Rubin, one man from the audience yelled out: “Thank God you’ve gone!”

At least they didn't throw tomatoes! Those stains are tough to get out.

Angry Words From Citigroup Investors [NYT]