The Contenders: Vikram Pandit and Shaukat Aziz
A search for Citigroup’s new chairman has taken a turn to the East, as the group seeks a leader from the Sub-continent. And, with a decision expected in the next 24 hours, it is hoped a new appointment will put an end to weeks of uncertainty.
Financial guru Vikram Pandit from India and former Pakistani prime minister Shaukat Aziz are seemingly the top two in the race to the post. Last week, Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Josef Ackermann rejected the offer to be the Citigroup chairman.
He “was approached by bank officials, but said he was not available”, said someone close to the decision-makers.
Citigroup, the world’s largest financial institution, has had a turbulent run of late following the US sub-prime mortgage crisis that resulted in the departure of Charles Prince. The run culminated in Abu Dhabi Investment Authority spending $7.5 billion (Dh27.5bn) on a 4.9 per cent share – a move that sent ripples around the world. The group, however, continues to face losses of up to $11bn (Dh40.3bn) from mortgage-related investments.
The position of head of the group had been vacant since Prince resigned as chairman and chief executive during an emergency meeting of the board on November 4.
After Prince’s departure, Citigroup named its Europe Chairman Win Bischoff as acting CEO and its Executive Committee Chairman, and former US Treasury secretary Robert E Rubin as chairman on an interim basis. Rubin is also part of a search committee for the new chairman and CEO, and this committee has been reviewing candidates from both inside and outside the bank.
Pandit’s name as the next CEO started doing the rounds after it became known Prince would resign, but the bank decided to review other candidates as he was new to the bank. He took over Citigroup’s investment banking operation in early October, six months after joining the firm. Meanwhile, reports have surfaced in the US and international media that Aziz, who resigned as Pakistan’s PM last month, could also be a potential candidate and has already sent out feelers to the Citigroup board.
Citigroup has remained silent, adding weight to the chance of the successful candidate coming from the Subcontinent. The committee is said to favour Pandit.
Vikram Pandit, the man for emerging markets
If Pandit is appointed as Citigroup’s chief executive, he would be the first Indian to head a leading global bank. A former professor at Columbia University, he had headed Morgan Stanley’s institutional securities business before starting a hedge fund that he sold to Citigroup for $800 million (Dh2.9 billion).
Pandit’s experience in emerging markets, including his native India, could help Citigroup become even more global. Last year the 45-year-old from Mumbai made $7.5m (Dh27.5m); the year before $10.6m (Dh38.9m). It’s big money, but it’s also a big responsibility: with 15,000 people worldwide reporting to him, Pandit oversees the division that contributes more than 60 per cent of Morgan Stanley’s $2.2bn (Dh8bn) bottom line. With an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and a PhD in finance from Columbia, Pandit joined Morgan Stanley in 1983 as an associate. In seven years, he became managing director, and by 1994 he was running the firm’s equity-derivatives business. In late 2000, he was handpicked to co-run all the firm’s trading operations.
“This is a sector that could be interesting and a lot of fun. But to do well, you have to put a lot of yourself into it,” he says.
Shaukat Aziz, with Citigroup links since 1969
His roots are in Citigroup as he started his career with the bank in 1969 in Karachi, Pakistan.
He moved overseas in 1975 and has since served in several countries, including the Philippines, Jordan, Greece, the US, the UK, Malaysia, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
His assignments included head of corporate and investment banking for the Asia-Pacific region; head of corporate and investment banking for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa corporate planning officer, Citicorp; managing director, Saudi American Bank, and global head, private banking for Citigroup.
He was appointed Executive Vice-President of Citibank in 1992 and has had 30 years of experience in global finance and international banking.
In November 1999, Aziz was appointed as Pakistan’s Minister of Finance with responsibility for finance, economic affairs, statistics, planning, development and revenue division.
Euromoney and The Banker have declared him Finance Minister of the year 2001.
Aziz was sworn in as the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan on August 28, 2004, and served until November 16, 2007.
- November 4: Charles Prince resigns as Citigroup’s Chairman and CEO
- November 5: Sir Win Bischoff is appointed as acting CEO
- December 2: Deutsche Bank’s Josef Ackermann declines Citigroup’s approach
Citigroup looks East in search for chairman