Vikram Pandit, Indian-American head of global banking behemoth Citigroup, unexpectedly stepped down from the role of CEO on Tuesday, after nearly five years at the helm of the company during the turbulence of the financial crisis and its aftermath.
He will be succeeded by Michael Corbat, head of the Citigroup’s European and Middle Eastern division, the bank announced.
Indicating a possible top-management shake-up, Citigroup also announced that John Havens, the bank’s President and an associate of Mr. Pandit, had resigned.
Although Mr. Pandit won numerous plaudits for managing the grim process of unwinding Citigroup’s losses via investments into mortgage securities, he was also criticised for failing to capitalise on certain opportunities and the fact that the company’s share price was 89 per cent lower than it was on the day he assumed office.
Particularly Mr. Pandit was considered by some Citigroup board members “as not being able to quickly and effectively execute strategy, lurching from crisis to crisis,” according media reports, and that there were “concerns that the executive lacked the breadth of vision needed to turn the bank around.”
Mr. Pandit began his career on Wall Street as a derivatives trader at Morgan Stanley back in 1983, and by 2000 he rose to the post of President and Chief Operating Officer of its worldwide operations for institutional securities and investment banking.
In 2005, Mr. Pandit, along with Mr. Havens, left Morgan Stanley and the following year they set up a hedge fund, Old Lane, along with Guru Ramakrishnan, former global head of trading, technology and new products in the equities group at Morgan Stanley.
In 2007, Citigroup purchased Old Lane, reportedly for $800 million, and slotted Mr. Pandit into the bank’s leadership.
While he initially led Citi’s alternative investments division, he soon became Chief Executive of the bank, replacing the Chuck Prince, who departed as the mortgage crisis pushed Citi to the brink.
In his top role, Mr. Pandit was credited with taking a salary of $1 and no bonus for two years, until, as he promised he would do, he returned the company to profitability. When that happened in 2011, Mr. Pandit’s annual base salary was hiked to $1.75 million.