Skip to main content



) -- Oh, Sheila Bair. Leave poor


(C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report

CEO Vikram Pandit alone.


Wall Street Journal

reported Friday that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is taking issue with the findings of a recent management review of Citi, in which CEO Pandit and a majority of his team got high marks for their running of the firm. Apparently some FDIC officials have "expressed doubts at the rigor of the report," adding that the agency may give the report little weight at its next regulatory assessment of the company, the



The review, conducted this summer for Citi's board by consulting firm Egon Zehnder International, was requested by the U.S. government after its stress tests of the nation's largest banks in the spring.

Perhaps Chairwoman Bair and the FDIC need to take a step back and let the company and management run the business.

It's worth noting that the FDIC approved Egon Zehnder for the job. After nixing a previous consulting firm that the bank suggested, Bair and the FDIC then gave Citi a list of "approved firms acceptable," that included Egon Zehnder, according to the



TheStreet Recommends

While Pandit garnered favorable reviews from the report, two other Citi executives got less-ringing assessments -- Vice Chairman Lewis Kaden and Chief Administrative Officer Don Callahan. Kaden's responsibilities include Citigroup's legal, human resources and government relations departments, while Callahan heads the bank's operations and technology.

The company is reviewing whether to make any changes to management as a result of the report, the



It's no secret that Bair and Pandit are not exactly the best of friends. According to various media reports, Bair, an advocate for protecting deposit-taking institutions, has had it out for Pandit for quite some time.

Citi has received $45 billion in government bailout funds since the start of the financial crisis, and Pandit, who was promoted to Citi's CEO in December 2007, has been widely criticized for not moving quickly enough and for not making broad-based changes at the company. His lack of commercial banking experience has also been a rallying point for his detractors.

But, to be fair, Citi has made progress in its turnaround mission, even if it is likely at the behest of regulators. It has split the company into a good bank/bad bank structure, and sold more than 30 non-core businesses. Among its achievements was completing a joint venture between its profitable wealth management arm, Smith Barney and

Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Morgan Stanley Report

. Pandit recently said that the company plans to sell its remaining stake in the venture to Morgan Stanley over the next five years.

In addition, the company announced an agreement on Friday to sell its energy trading unit,



Occidental Petroleum Corp.

(OXY) - Get Occidental Petroleum Corporation Report

for $250 million. While the unit was a major profit generator for the firm, it was also causing a headache for Citi over its agreement to pay a guaranteed $100 million to one of its top traders, a contentious point for the government, which currently owns a 34% stake. The sale is more evidence the company is trying to be responsive to federal concerns.

So why then is the FDIC unhappy with the results of the Egon Zehnder report? Is it perhaps because the findings are contradictory to Bair's notions about Citi and Pandit?

While Pandit may ultimately not be the right man to run a company as complex and diverse as Citi, the restructured board of directors, many of whom are new to Citi and have extensive banking experience, as well as shareholders, should be the ones to make that decision.

--Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.