Citi's Talent Hunt is Bipartisan

Updates to include information on Peter Orzag's hiring

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Citigroup ( C) has been shopping for talent on both sides of the political aisle, hiring Bush cabinet member Carlos Gutierrez and Obama economic aide Peter Orzag over the past week.

On Friday, Citi confirmed Orzag's hiring, after weeks of reported discussions. Orzag, who left his role as director of the Office of Management and Budget, will be joining the bank as vice chairman of global banking within Citi's institutional clients group.

John Havens, CEO of that group, said Orzag "brings a tremendous amount of knowledge as well as key private sector and government experience."

Since leaving the Obama camp in July, the high-profile economist and policy wonk has been shopping around Wall Street for a new life in the private sector. In addition to Citi, Orzag was reportedly speaking to private-equity firms Blackstone ( BX) and Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts ( KKR), but more recent chatter has centered on Citigroup.

"I am pleased to be joining Citi, with its unmatched global platform and dedication to providing clients with quality service and advice. I look forward to working with the experienced, dynamic team at Citi," Orszag said in a statement.

Orzag, who also worked as a senior economist under President Clinton, has appeared frequently in the media as Congress began to address complex and politically sensitive budget issues. He is also a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and contributes to a New York Times as a special columnist. On Friday, he penned his final column as an op-ed contributor for the New York Times, examining the role disability insurance plays in the country's unemployment problem.

In his role at Citi, he will not be allowed to have contact with the government, due to federal ethics laws.

The Orzag hiring announcement came a week after Citi said it had hired Carlos Gutierrez, a Commerce Secretary under President Bush.

Hiring Gutierrez plays to Citi's focus on international growth. Orzag would seem to offer more political and economic savvy for a bank that's still 12% owned by U.S. taxpayers and grappling with economic headwinds at home and abroad.

Gutierrez will become vice chairman of Citi's Institutional Clients Group and a member of its Senior Strategic Advisory Group. The Citi job ends a long string of unemployment for the former Kellogg ( K) CEO, who has been collecting speaking fees and serving as chairman of a communications firm's international subsidiary. (Gutierrez was the subject of a Wall Street Journal profile of Bush's political appointees who were having a hard time finding work.)

"I am excited to join Citi during an unprecedented time in the global financial markets," Gutierez said in a statement.

Born in Cuba, he worked up the ranks at Kellogg for more than 20 before becoming CEO in 1999. He helped refocus the company's business strategy to create more profitable growth and remained chairman until being sworn in as Commerce Secretary in 2005. He was also a leading proponent of Bush's immigration strategy and foreign trade.

"Citi's clients and our Global Banking franchise will undoubtedly benefit from Carlos's vast corporate experience, global perspectives and respect as a trusted advisor," Havens said on Dec. 3.

-- Written by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York.

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