Scuttlebutt has it that Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit is on his way out. Why? Well, there was the $8.3 billion loss they announced this morning, and his sudden about-face-making decision to “realign” the company. But this morning’s Journal indicates that it’s also, perhaps, personal. As we all know, nothing is more suspicious to a New Yorker than good cheer, and Vikram, to his grave misfortune, is a little too happy for some people’s tastes, including those of a certain “Wall Street veteran” who met with Pandit on November 25, around the time the government announced its multi-billion-dollar bailout of the banking giant.
“He had a spring in his step,” he told the Journal. “You could not tell that he is a CEO that’s under this kind of pressure.”
Colleagues also noted that Pandit exhibited this same strange behavior in mid-December, when the company was devising its strategy for breaking off Smith Barney into a joint venture with Morgan Stanley:
Colleagues said Mr. Pandit remained in high spirits, pressing his lieutenants to remain focused on their work.
Who does he think he is? Mary Fucking Poppins? Doesn’t he know that CEOs are supposed to be grim, scary, frightening cocks? In any case, Vikram seems to have sobered up, and even sounded a little defensive in this morning’s conference call:
As you all know, the new management team has been here for a little over a year, working on your behalf. As you also know, we came into this with a lot of embedded challenges. We recognize what we needed to do and we started to act quickly. For much of the year, we have been dealing with dysfunctional markets, which deteriorated even further after Labor Day, but we kept working through all the dysfunctionalities.
Aw,Vikram. Don’t let them change you! Who says you can’t be a CEO and a fun-loving, open-hearted cuddle bear? And anyway, what are they going to do about it? There’s no one left to replace you with!
Highlights and Lowlights of Citigroup’s Earnings Call [Deal Journal/WSJ]
Pandit’s Puzzle: How to Fix Citigroup [WSJ]