Banking giant Citigroup ( C) may be aiming to get a whole lot smaller in the near term under new CEO Vikram Pandit. Citi, the nation's largest bank, is expected to cut its workforce by as much as 37,000 in the wake of an unsettling 2007, which saw the departure of former CEO Charles Prince amid billions in writedowns. According to reports by CNBC, the bank is said to be considering slashing 5% or 10% of its employees. Citi's workforce has about 370,000 employees because of the completion of recent acquisitions, according to its most recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing. CNBC, citing people familiar with the moves, indicate that Citi may aim to sell some assets -- a move that Pandit has already suggested the company may be compelled to do to get leaner. CNBC's report repeats similar comments the news organization made last week, when it reported similar cuts that were expected to be announced at the bank imminently. A Citi spokesman reiterated that the bank has been "planning ways in which
it can be more efficient and cost effective," but underscored that numbers associated with the total job cuts "were not factual." Citi is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings Jan. 15. Sources tell TheStreet.com that the bank could at that time announce moves to reduce workers and/or unload ancillary operations.
Embattled Citi is facing more than just a shrinking workforce. The financial firm has lost nearly 50% of its share value over the past year, bringing the behemoth bank's market capitalization to $139 billion. Wall Street, however, seemed to be encouraged by the latest rumors surrounding the company, driving the bank's stock up slightly into positive territory. Citi's woes center primarily on arcane mortgage-related securities, including collateralized debt obligations and asset-backed securities that it originated over the past 18 months. Values of such securities, which were originated en masse during the housing boom by Citi and its peers, including Merrill Lynch ( MER), Morgan Stanley ( MS), JPMorgan ( JPM), Lehman Brothers ( LEH) and Goldman Sachs ( GS), have fallen in value precipitously. Analysts tracking Citi are expecting the bank to report an
even bigger writedown than the $11 billion the bank said it might take in the wake of Prince's ouster. Last week, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods said it expects that fourth-quarter writedowns on mortgage securities could be as much as $15 billion to $16 billion at Citi. Goldman analyst William Tanona also upped his estimated fourth-quarter writedowns for Citi, pegging it at nearly $19 billion. The Goldman analyst also estimates that fourth-quarter writedowns at Merrill could hit $11.5 billion -- about $5 billion more than he initially anticipated.