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Pandit May Retool Citi

The new CEO contemplates a breakup of the banking giant.

Updated from 3:02 p.m. EST




CEO Vikram Pandit may have the toughest task ahead of him as he tries to right Citi's beleaguered ship: breaking up the bank.

The new chief suggested that his first act may be restructuring the behemoth organization to a more manageable level, after ousted CEO Charles Prince saw Citi run into massive losses on esoteric mortgage-backed securities.

"I will undertake an objective and dispassionate review of all the businesses individually and in aggregate," Pandit said Tuesday evening, during his first analyst call after being named CEO. "The goal is to drive profitability, which in turn drives shareholder returns."

Pandit did not provide a timetable for his review or identify which areas specifically he would be reviewing. "It's two hours into this. Give me some time," he commented, responding to an analyst's question.

Pandit's mandate will be threefold. It will include making Citi productive, positioning the financial institution for the future and focusing on its culture -- a culture many have said has been lacking at the 300,000-strong organization.

Pandit was named CEO after a month-long search. Win Bischoff, who had been acting CEO, will take over as chairman.

The long-awaited CEO nomination was not immediately cheered by Wall Street. Citi shares closed down $1.54, or 4.4%, to $33.23.

It's hard to figure which disappointed Wall Street more on Tuesday -- the

Federal Reserve

and it's

25 basis point cut to the fed funds rate or Citi's board.

Citigroup's announcement -- which seemed to conveniently hit the tapes a mere moments within the Fed's widely anticipated policy statement -- was

much expected after several potential candidates appeared to bow out.

Pandit had been widely considered to be a frontrunner even after only having a roughly five-month tenure at Citi, when he joined via Citi's acquisition of his hedge fund, Old Lane Partners, earlier this year.

Prior to forming Old Lane, he spent more than 20 years in various roles at

Morgan Stanley



Sanford Bernstein bank analyst Brad Hintz, who worked with Pandit at Morgan Stanley for 10 years between 1986 to 1996, described the executive as "one of the smartest people I have ever worked for." "Even when he was at a subsidiary level, he thought like a chairman or a president," Hintz notes.

The analyst, a former CFO at Lehman Brothers, does not cover Citi.

Interim Citi Chairman Robert Rubin echoed those sentiments in a written statement.

"Vikram has earned a reputation as one of the most respected leaders in the financial services industry," Rubin said. "The combination of his deep executive experience and long history as a strategic thinker makes him the outstanding choice to be Citi's CEO."

Rubin will return to his previous duties as a Citi board member after Bischoff, who previously served as the head of Citi's businesses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, takes the helm.