One of the largest Troubled Asset Relief Program and Treasury bailout recipients during the financial crisis, Citigroup took over $45 billion in government funds in exchange for preferred shares to survive. The company, which saw its stock fall below the price of a McDonalds (MCD) hamburger, has spent the last three years selling assets to raise much needed capital. In 2008, Citigroup created CitiHoldings to unwind or sell $850 billion in "non-core" assets to pay back its government ownership, which peaked at nearly 40%, and repair its balance sheet.As a result, Citigroup (C) earnings are being dictated by what we've called an ever lightening Sisyphean rock in CitiHoldings. In 2009, just after the split between Citi and CitiHoldings took effect, asset sales began at a frenetic pace. That January, Citi ceded its ownership of brokerage Smith Barney to Morgan Stanley (MS)in a joint venture that formed the world's largest brokerage and netted Citi almost $3 billion in much needed cash. Months later, Citi sold its Japanese brokerage Nikko Cordial to Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, the third largest bank in Japan for nearly $8 billion and it got another $2 billion in excess cash. Citi kept one Asian brokerage unit, Nikko Asset Management, which it later sold to Sumitomo for roughly $1.25 billion -ending an ambitious foray into Asia. In 2010, the sales kept on humming at CitiHoldings; during the year Citi reduced its assets by over $140 billion -a reduction of 28%. Among the most publicized sales was a selling of shares in its insurance unit Primerica (PRI) to private equity fund Warburg Pincus, which later were sold in an IPO. That sale, a further push away from Citi's "financial supermarket" business model where anything money could be done under the roof of Citigroup. Last year, the company also started selling some of its bundles of securities tied to real estate and credit card debt the bank had issued. In September 2010, Citi sold its stake in Student Loan Corp to Discover Financial (DFS) for $600 million and another $3.5 billion in commercial real estate debt to JPMorgan Chase (JPM). Earlier in November, Citigroup sold music titan EMI in two separate pieces for $4.1 billion after seizing the company from private equity firm Terra Firma earlier in the year. With the EMI sales, Citigroup's crisis sales are nearing $20 billion in total, but company management has cautioned investors against expecting many more sales. Instead, the company will let its CitiHoldings assets mature over years, if not decades. Meanwhile, the stock flounders.
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