5. Dick's Departure -- published March 9
So long Dick Parsons. Now that you are stepping down as chairman of Citigroup (C), you will be missed.
Of course, Parsons won't be missed by Citigroup in the least after he helped reduce that once proud bank to rubble. No, his departure will be most mourned right here at the Dumbest Lab, because while he may have destroyed a ton of wealth for Citi shareholders, he's provided a treasure trove of material for us.
"Given the strong position that Citi is in today, I have concluded that the time has come for me to take my leave," said Parsons, who will be succeeded by Bank of Hawaii CEO Michael O'Neill, in a statement last Friday. Vikram Pandit, who became CEO when toe-tapping Chuck Prince was forced out in 2007, will remain in that job.Strong position, huh? Really, Dick? Relative to what? Citigroup stock has lost approximately 75% of its value since you joined the board 16 years ago. Albeit that's better than the 84% decline that Time Warner has seen in its stock price since you helped preside over that company's disastrous merger with AOL back in January 2000, but still. Granted, Citigroup is much stronger now than it was in October 2008 when it was forced to take $25 billion in federal bailout money because of gross mismanagement by the likes of Parsons and fellow negligent board member Bob Rubin. We'll give him that. Same goes for the additional $20 billion in taxpayer money the bank needed in January 2009, not to mention the $306 billion in assets that the government guaranteed for the so-called sake of the entire financial system. We'll give him that, too. But seriously, how can he honestly suggest that the bank is better off for having him been at the helm? Well, supposedly at the helm. We still don't know exactly what Parsons and his buddies did at those Citi board meetings, anyway. Other than get paid, that is. Here's the real kicker when it comes to Parsons. At least Rubin had the good sense to leave in early January 2009 once he realized that his utter neglect for his duties did indeed have disastrous consequences. Parsons, on the other hand, stepped up and took the chairman's title when Win Bischoff slumped off in disgrace later that month. Think about it. Citigroup gets saved by Uncle Sam, lays off tens of thousands of employees, and this guy pushes for a promotion! Talk about chutzpah. That's like killing your parents and then begging the judge for mercy because you are an orphan. Sure the government made $12 billion when it ultimately sold out of its Citi stake, but once again, relatively speaking, that's a minuscule return for the nightmare the bank put the nation through. Just because all's well now does not mean Dick's tenure ends well. But we will miss him. That we will. Even if nobody else does. Best Buy was anything but for the company's shareholders in 2012 with the stock losing almost half its value. A lot of the fun started in the spring CEO Brian Dunn got caught for having too much fun with a subordinate.