Citi's Pandit Consolidating Power

The departure of Michael Klein, a one-time rival to the bank's top spot, is further evidence the CEO is asserting his influence.
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The departure of

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

veteran Michael Klein is the latest piece of evidence CEO Vikram Pandit is consolidating power at the troubled bank.

Klein, a 23-year veteran of the bank and one of its highest-paid executives , will leave the bank "to pursue other opportunities," Citi said in a statement Monday. Pandit stripped Klein of his management responsibilities after he became CEO, though he was complimentary of the departing executive in the bank's official statement.

"An adviser to governmental and corporate leaders the world over, Michael is a uniquely talented individual and partner, and, on behalf of the company, I thank him for his invaluable contributions to Citi, and wish him well," Pandit said.

Klein's departure hardly comes as a surprise. His role at Citi had become increasingly vague during Pandit's tenure. He had been in charge, directly or indirectly, of nearly all of Citigroup's client relationships, prior to a reorganization in March. Pandit redefined that job, essentially giving Klein's duties to John Havens, one of his top deputies. Havens is CEO of the institutional clients group, which was Pandit's job before he took Citi's top job.

Klein was among the contenders for Citi's CEO post after the resignation of Charles Prince last year, according to reports in

The Wall Street Journal

-- although others believed the 44-year-old was too young to be considered for such a lofty position. Still, his presence may have posed a potential problem for Pandit.

Klein is a prominent figure in investment banking circles, particularly those related to private equity. Gary Goldstein, an executive recruiter and head of The Whitney Group, credits Klein with inventing the idea of what most investment banks call the financial sponsors group. This is a group that caters to a select group of private equity firms who are some of Wall Street's most important clients.

Klein referred calls to Citigroup's press office, which declined to comment beyond the press release the bank issued Wednesday announcing his departure.

While Citi remains in the red, the bank did

beat the expectation of analysts

in its most recent quarter. The bank last week reported a $2.5 billion, or 54 cents a share, vs. the consensus expectation of 66-cents-a-share loss.

In addition to the management shuffle, Citi has, under Pandit, jettisoned several businesses, including CitiCapital, Diners Club International, CitiStreet and its German retail banking operation.

Separately, Citi on Monday tapped Lawrence Ricciardi, a former executive at

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

, among other companies, to its board of directors.

Ricciardi, 67, is also on the board of

Royal Dutch Shell

(RDS-B)

. He becomes Citi's fifteenth board member.