Vikram Pandit escapes the ax yet again
According to the Financial Times, a report by consultants Egon Zehnder offered a scathing assessment of Terri Dial, the head of Citigroup's troubled U.S. consumer bank, Lew Kaden, who runs the legal and human resources departments, and Don Callahan, a Pandit ally who is chief administrative officer. Regulators requested the report earlier this year.
Oddly, the FT said Egon Zehnder was "generally positive" about Citi's top management, including Pandit. It's unclear whether this means the assessment was 51 percent positive or 99 percent positive.
It's hard to understand how the consultant could find much positive to say about Pandit given all that has happened to the New York-based bank, including its near-death experience that lead to the government taking a 34 percent stake. Though the bank's shares have soared 72 percent over the past three months, they are down more than 90 percent over the past three years.
The report did praise some Citi executives, including John Gerspach, the new chief financial officer; John Havens, head of the securities business; and Mike Corbat, who runs Citi Holdings, which houses non-core businesses, according to the FT.
But Pandit cannot feel too comfortable in his job. Just look at what happened to Ken Lewis at Bank of America Corp. (BAC), who is reportedly being forced from his job months earlier than his scheduled retirement. There's there's the potential threat from pay czar Kenneth Feinberg, who is examining pay practices at the top banks which received federal assistance, including Citibank. And Shelia Bair, the head of the FDIC, has been trying for months to shake up Citigroup's management only to be thwarted by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
For Pandit, the report is another stay of execution. The executive has led a charmed life ever since he received a $216 million payout from Citigroup to take over the CEO's job from Chuck Prince. That include Pandit's share of the $800 million purchase of Old Lane Partners, the hedge fund that closed last year amid poor performance 11 months after it was bought.
Pandit's cannot survive on luck alone for much longer.