NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Vikram Pandit's performance as Citigroup (C) CEO looks solid by many measures, though there are certainly some important numbers that justify the board's decision to push him out.
None of the individual businesses within Citigroup stands out as having performed exceptionally badly during Pandit's tenure. Presumably Citi Holdings--the bad bank--has been satisfactory, or Michael Corbat, who ran it, wouldn't have been tapped to replace Pandit.
Citigroup's consumer bank doesn't have the massive mortgage exposure one sees at Wells Fargo (WFC), Bank of America (BAC) or JPMorgan Chase (JPM), so it hasn't rebounded as strongly this year for Citigroup as it did at those rival institutions. Its 2% revenue increase for the first nine months of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago isn't stellar, but its about par for the course in this weak recovery.
Since Institutional Clients Group (ICG) CEO John Havens was also pushed out along with Pandit, the obvious place to look for underperformance would be that area, which refers to all of the businesses of Citigroup that aren't consumer-oriented and aren't marked for sale or wind-down.The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the board was dissatisfied with the performance of ICG. But ICG's performance does't offer up any obvious clues either. Sure, earnings fell 15% through the first nine months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, but performance at JPMorgan looks comparably weak. JPMorgan reports earnings a bit differently. It doesn't have a big segment that one could compare to ICG, but the individual businesses at JPMorgan that go into Citi's ICG don't stand out as having done much better, if at all. Investment banking fee revenues at JPMorgan fell 15% through the first nine months of 2012 versus the same period in 2011, while Citigroup investment bank revenues rose by 9%. Citigroup's principal transactions revenues fell by 22%, while JPMorgan's fell by 53%-aided by the now-notorious London Whale trading blow up. Transactions services revenues rose by just 4% for Citigroup versus a 29% rise over the nine month period for a comparable business line at JPMorgan called treasury and security services, but Citigroup's transactions services business is more than twice the size of JPMorgan's so its hard to grow as quickly.
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