Citigroup Cuts Unwanted Assets; Should Benefit Shareholders


“People shouldn’t want us to be everything to everyone,” Citigroup, Inc.’s (NYSE:C) Chief Executive Officer, Michael Corbat offered this advice in an interview with Bloomberg television. The bank cut down its unwanted assets 25 percent last year and should no longer be expected to offer unlimited financial services. “We’ve gone through a pretty significant transformation,” Corbat continued in the interview; “we’ve got the right business mix.”

The 53-year-old took over for the company’s ousted former CEO Vikram Pandit, who expanded Citigroup’s operations into emerging markets before being removed by directors in 2012.

Corbat has been utilizing an opposing strategy to Pandit’s; like many global banks, he’s spent the past few years, in the wake of Pandit’s leadership, selling assets, laying off staff, and exiting markets (the company exited five consumer businesses last year), strategies that will help the company to meet stricter regulatory standards and benefit investors.

Corbat expressed confidence in the company’s recent cutbacks that, “The world’s becoming a better place and again it is up to us to make sure we’re doing the right things,” he said to Bloomberg. “We’ve got the resources: we’ve built the capital, we have liquidity.”

Corbat is a veteran at Citigroup, who was formerly CEO of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa before replacing Pandit at the New York headquarters. He has been with the company for 31 years since leaving Harvard University with a degree in economics.

Citigroup’s fourth-quarter earnings missed Wall Street’s projections last week; the company’s shares fell 5.6 percent since January 16 as bond trading continues to slump. Last week, the company also reported that net income had more than doubled from a year ago to $2.69 billion, according to Bloomberg.

The international economy is expected to grow about 3.25 percent in 2014, and emerging markets are expected to grow 5 percent; that economic expansion will help relieve some of the pressure on the Federal Reserve, reducing bond purchases, but Corbat said transitions to higher interest rates are “never smooth.”

“As a world we go into this one probably a bit better than we have historically,” Corbat continued, speaking with Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. “If you’re extracting that excess liquidity as the rest of the economy, that powerful engine, is coming behind it, it should create for a better transition.”