In a surprise move that had the banking world buzzing Tuesday, Citi Chief Executive Officer Vikram Panit stepped down effective immediately, and the company elected Michael Corbat, Citi’s CEO of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, as their new CEO and director of the board.
Pandit, who had been Citi’s CEO since 2007, ascending to the top, position just five months after coming on board with Citi, had sent a memo to Citi employees just the day before his resignation, when Citi’s third-quarter earnings statement was released with strong numbers.
“There is nothing better than our third-quarter earnings announcement to demonstrate definitively that we have turned this company around,” said the memo.
In his statement announcing his resignation, Pandit said, “Citigroup is well-positioned for continued profitability and growth, having refocused the franchise on the basics of banking. Given the progress we have made in the last few years, I have concluded that now is the right time for someone else to take the helm at Citigroup.”
Chief Operating Officer and Pandit’s right-hand man, John Havens, also submitted his resignation on Tuesday along with his boss, causing gasps of shock on the Manhattan stock trading floor, according to many reports. According to Citi, Havens had previously announced his intention to leave the company at the end of the year, but Pandit’s resignation prompted him to leave now.
In with the New
Michael Corbat, Citi’s new CEO, has been with the company for almost 30 years, and said via press release, “my top priority is to keep us focused on what our clients need, both today and tomorrow. The Board and I firmly believe in Citigroup’s future, and together are committed to delivering sustained profitability and shareholder returns.”
Pandit’s departure leaves only two veteran heads of banks left from the financial crisis of 2008: Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs. All other CEOs of major finance institutions impacted by the crisis have stepped down or been replaced.
Michael E. O’Neill, Citigroup’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, said of the resignation, “We respect Vikram’s decision. Since his appointment at the start of the financial crisis until the present time, Vikram has restructured and recapitalized the Company, strengthened our global franchise and re-focused the business. The Board and I are grateful to Vikram for his leadership, integrity and resilience in guiding Citi through the crisis and positioning it well for the future.”
Of Corbat, Pandit said, “I could not be leaving the Company in better hands. Mike is the right person to tackle the difficult challenges ahead, with a 29-year record of achievement and leadership at this Company.”
ThankYou Points and Rewards Not Going Anywhere
Although it has a new CEO, Citi’s popular ThankYou Points system for credit card holders and banking customers will remain unchanged, enabling consumers to earn rewards such as cash back, merchandise, frequent flyer miles and hotel stays. Citi credit cards are some of the most versatile and rewarding in the industry, offering high-value rewards and a variety of different cards for customers with unique financial needs.