Citigroup closing share price included in this update. Adds information on final terms of the TrUPs sale.NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Citigroup ( C) shares continued their upward trajectory Wednesday as the bank priced a sale of up to $2 billion worth of trust-preferred securities amid heavy investor interest. The trust preferred securities, or TruPS, saw "huge" demand from both institutional and retail investors, according to Dow Jones, which said orders exceeded $5 billion. The yield on the 30-year fixed-to-floating rate securities was initially expected to be 8.875%, but Dow Jones said Citigroup, emboldened by the impressive demand, lowered it to 8.625%, and ended up launching it Wednesday afternoon with a yield of 8.50%. The report cites an unnamed person familiar with the deal. Final pricing on the deal, the report said, was for 80 million units with a par value of $25 each that have the 8.50% yield, mature in March 2040 and are noncallable for five years. The ratings on the TrUPs were 'BB-' for Standard & Poor's and 'Ba1' for Moody's; both below investment grade as noted by the company in the prospectus it filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission in relation to the offering. Also, according to the prospectus, the company believes tax treatment of the payments associated with the TrUPs will be as interest, rather than dividends. More than 100 million shares changed hands in premarket action after the stock gained more than 7% in Tuesday's session on massive volume. The shares closed 3.7% higher at $3.96 on Wednesday. The session's high was $4.07, and volume totaled more than 1.2 billion, more than double its three-month trailing daily average of 534 million. The intraday break above $4 is significant as the stock hadn't seen that level reached since intraday trading on Dec. 8, just before news of its TARP repayment plans began to circulate. At the same time, the stock's inability to finish there or higher is telling as well, and short interest in the stock has been building of late. The stock is now up 15.4% year-to-date. The reasons behind the initial rally on Tuesday were many. The heavy demand for the TrUPs was a contributing factor as news of the initial terms and strong interest from both institutional and retail investors leaked out early in the afternoon. Optimism was also fueled by bullish comments by both famed investor Bruce Berkowitz, who has built up a sizable stake in the company, and fixed income research firm CreditSights, which said the company, from both a debt and equity perspective, was "back from from the brink and back in business."
In addition, Charlie Gasparino of Fox Business News reported during Tuesday's session that the the U.S. government is discussing plans to begin unwinding its roughly 27% stake in the company, possibly within the next three months. Breaking free from government support and supervision has been the goal for Citigroup for a while as it has worked to reorganize in the aftermath of the financial crisis, employing a good bank/bad bank structure to better define its long-term strategy and determine which assets it needs to divest. The company was also reportedly making some progress on that front early Wednesday as Bloomberg said it had reached a deal to sell its Citi Property Investors real estate investment unit to private equity firm Apollo Management LP. The report put the value of those assets at around $5 billion. All these developments would seem to reinforce the sentiment expressed by CEO Vikram Pandit last week in prepared comments to the Congressional Oversight Panel that the company is "fundamentally different" than it was two years ago. "Citi is now a smaller institution that is focused on being a bank -- not a financial supermarket," Pandit said in prepared comments. "In short, everything we have been doing is to ensure that Citi never again needs the assistance of the American taxpayer." Pandit is scheduled to speak to investors on Thursday as he presents the keynote speech at Citigroup's annual financial services conference. The company received a total of $45 billion in bailout funds and entered into an agreement where the federal government would backstop $306 billion worth of soured assets during the financial crisis. Citigroup was able to pay back $20 billion in TARP funds and terminate the loss-sharing agreement on Dec. 23 after executing a massive $17 billion common stock offering. The issue of when the U.S. Treasury will exit its stake in the company remains at the forefront of investors' minds. Initial plans to sell out in the $17 billion offering that accompanied Citigroup's TARP repayment plan were scrapped after the new stock priced below the $3.25 per share level where the Treasury owns its shares. A three-month lock-up period was subsequently put in the place on the Treasury's stake, but that ends next week. At current prices, the government is looking at a plus 20% gain on its shares, although the stock is likely to head lower once it outlines its plans to get out. --Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.