Citigroup

Citigroup

Citigroup Inc., doing business as Citi, is a major American financial services company based in New York City. Citigroup was formed from the merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group on April 7, 1998. The company employs approximately 358,000 staff around the world, and holds over 200 million customer accounts in more than 100 countries. It is the world's largest bank by revenues as of 2008. It is a primary dealer in US Treasury securities and its stock has been a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average since March 17, 1997. Its single largest shareholder is Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, who has a 4.9% stake.

As of December 11, 2007, Vikram Pandit is Citigroup's current CEO, while Sir Win Bischoff the current chairman.

On September 29, 2008 it was announced that Citigroup would acquire the banking operations of Wachovia Corporation, via an all-stock transaction, with the aid of FDIC loss limitations. The purchase was proposed to close by the end of the 2008. However on October 3, 2008, it was announced by Wachovia that they had decided to merge with Wells Fargo Bank instead. Citi has challenged the Wachovia/Wells Fargo merger based on the details of the previous deal. On Oct 9, 2008, Wells Fargo and Citigroup ended the legal battle over Wachovia corp allowing Wells Fargo to acquire the company as a whole.

History

Citigroup was formed on October 8, 1998 following the $140 billion merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group to create the world's largest financial services organization. The history of the company is, thus, divided into the history of several firms that over time amalgamated into Citicorp, a multinational banking corporation operating in more than 100 countries; or Travelers Group, whose businesses covered credit services, consumer finance, brokerage, and insurance. As such, the company history dates back to the founding of: the City Bank of New York (later Citibank) in 1812; Bank Handlowy in 1870; Smith Barney in 1873, Banamex in 1884; Salomon Brothers in 1910.

Citicorp

The history begins with the City Bank of New York, which was chartered by New York State on June 16, 1812, with $2 million of capital. Serving a group of New York merchants, the bank opened for business on September 14 of that year, and Samuel Osgood was elected as the first President of the company. The company's name was changed to The National City Bank of New York in 1865 after it joined the new U.S. national banking system, and it became the largest American bank by 1895. It became the first contributor to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 1913, and the following year it inaugurated the first overseas branch of a U.S. bank in Buenos Aires. The 1918 purchase of U.S. overseas bank International Banking Corporation helped it become the first American bank to surpass $1 billion in assets, and it became the largest commercial bank in the world in 1929. As it grew, the bank became a leading innovator in financial services, becoming the first major U.S. bank to offer compound interest on savings (1921); unsecured personal loans (1928); customer checking accounts (1936) and the negotiable certificate of deposit (1961).

The bank changed its name to The First National City Bank of New York in 1955, which was shortened to First National City Bank on the 150th anniversary of the company's foundation in 1962. The company organically entered the leasing and credit card sectors, and its introduction of USD certificates of deposit in London marked the first new negotiable instrument in market since 1888. Later to become MasterCard, the bank introduced its First National City Charge Service credit card - popularly known as the "Everything card" - in 1967.

During the mid-1970s, under the leadership of CEO Walter Wriston, First National City Bank (and its holding company First National City Corporation) was renamed as Citibank, N.A. (and Citicorp, respectively). Shortly afterward, the bank launched the Citicard, which pioneered the use of 24-hour ATMs. As the bank's expansion continued, the Narre Warren-Caroline Springs credit card company was purchased in 1981. John S. Reed was elected CEO in 1984, and Citi became a founding member of the CHAPS clearing house in London. Under his leadership, the next 14 years would see Citibank become the largest bank in the United States, the largest issuer of credit cards and charge cards in the world, and expand its global reach to over 90 countries.

Travelers Group

Travelers Group, at the time of merger, was a diverse group of financial concerns that had been brought together under CEO Sandy Weill. Its roots came from Commercial Credit, a subsidiary of Control Data Systems that was taken private by Weill in November 1986 after taking charge of the company earlier that year. Two years later, Weill mastered the buyout of Primerica - a conglomerate that had already bought life insurer A L Williams as well as stock broker Smith Barney. The new company took the Primerica name, and employed a "cross-selling" strategy such that each of the entities within the parent company aimed to sell each other's services. Its non-financial businesses were spun-off.

In September 1992, Travelers Insurance, which had suffered from poor real estate investments and sustained significant losses in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, formed a strategic alliance with Primerica that would lead to its amalgamation into a single company in December 1993. With the acquisition, the group became Travelers Inc. Property & casualty and life & annuities underwriting capabilities were added to the business. Meanwhile, the distinctive Travelers red umbrella logo, which was also acquired in the deal, was applied to all the businesses within the newly named organization. During this period, Travelers acquired Shearson Lehman - a retail brokerage and asset management firm that was headed by Weill until 1985 - and merged it with Smith Barney. Finally, in November 1997, Travelers Group (which had been renamed again in April 1995 when they merged with Aetna Property and Casualty, Inc.), made the $9 billion deal to purchase Salomon Brothers, a major bond trader and investment bank.

Citicorp and Travelers merger

On April 6, 1998, the merger between Citicorp and Travelers Group was announced to the world creating a $140 billion firm with assets of almost $700 billion. The deal would enable Travelers to market mutual funds and insurance to Citicorp's retail customers while giving the banking divisions access to an expanded client base of investors and insurance buyers.

Although presented as a merger, the deal was actually more like a stock swap, with Travelers Group purchasing the entirety of Citicorp shares for $70 billion, and issuing 2.5 new Citigroup shares for each Citicorp share. Through this mechanism, existing shareholders of each company owned about half of the new firm. While the new company maintained Citicorp's "Citi" brand in its name, it adopted Travelers' distinctive "red umbrella" as the new corporate logo, which was used until 2007.

The chairmen of both parent companies, John Reed and Sandy Weill respectively, were announced as co-chairmen and co-CEOs of the new company, Citigroup, Inc., although the vast difference in management styles between the two immediately presented question marks over the wisdom of such a setup.

The remaining provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act - enacted following the Great Depression - forbade banks to merge with insurance underwriters, and meant Citigroup had between two and five years to divest any prohibited assets. However, Weill stated at the time of the merger that they believed "that over that time the legislation will change...we have had enough discussions to believe this will not be a problem". Indeed, the passing of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in November 1999 vindicated Reed and Weill's views, opening the door to financial services conglomerates offering a mix of commercial banking, investment banking, insurance underwriting and brokerage.

Travelers spin off

The company spun off its Travelers Property and Casualty insurance underwriting business in 2002. The spin off was prompted by the insurance unit's drag on Citigroup stock price because Traveler's earnings were more seasonal and vulnerable to large disasters. It was also difficult to sell this kind of insurance directly to customers since most industrial customers are accustomed to purchasing insurance through a broker.

The Travelers Property Casualty Corporation merged with The St. Paul Companies Inc. in 2004 forming The St. Paul Travelers Companies. Citigroup retained the life insurance and annuities underwriting business; however, it sold those businesses to MetLife in 2005. Citigroup still heavily sells all forms of insurance, but it no longer underwrites insurance.

Despite their divesting Travelers Insurance, Citigroup retained Travelers' signature red umbrella logo as its own until February 2007, when Citigroup agreed to sell the logo back to St. Paul Travelers, which renamed itself Travelers Companies. Citigroup also decided to adopt the corporate brand "Citi" for itself and virtually all its subsidiaries, except Primerica and Banamex.

On April 11, 2007 Citigroup said it will eliminate 17,000 jobs, or about 5 percent of its workforce, in a broad restructuring designed to cut costs and bolster its long underperforming stock.

On January 7, 2008 Citigroup announced that it is considering cutting 5 percent to 10 percent of its work force, which totals 327,000.

Business model

Citigroup and its predecessor companies use the "diversified financial services business model" first invented by Prudential in the late 1970s. Simply put, this model attempts to conglomerate many types of finance companies, such as stock brokers, banks, insurance companies, and others. This is done because each of those businesses do better or worse at different times of the business cycle, and so owning all of them balances things out and creates in theory less earnings volatility. This is also done because customers usually use many different kinds of financial products and attempting to convince them to use more products from the same company sells more products more cheaply, compared to those separate companies strictly selling products on their own.

During the era of Sandy Weill, much of Citigroup and predecessor's efforts were focused on acquisitions. Much of the efforts were focused in the stock brokerage and investment banking areas, and most of the acquisitions were companies which had recently had problems and were selling at a low price. After the acquisition, the management team would usually engage in aggressive cost cutting to build up cash for the next deal.

Former CEO, Chuck Prince, has said "the day of the transformative deal (merger) is over". This is thought to refer to mega deals like the Citicorp/Travelers merger, as Citigroup continues to acquire. The focus of the company though, is said to have changed to organic revenue growth, that is selling more products instead of focusing on acquisitions and cost cutting alone to increase profit.

Citigroup's 2005 sale of the remainder of Travelers Insurance to MetLife was described by the press as the death knell of the bank-insurance cross-selling model. This is a false analysis though, as Citigroup continues to cross sell insurance, but no longer underwrites it. This focus on selling almost all kinds of financial products, but not necessarily "manufacturing them", is also what prompted Citigroup to recently trade its mutual fund business to Legg Mason in return for more stockbrokers.

Divisions

Citigroup is divided into three major business groups: Global Consumer, Global Wealth Management, Global Services and the newly formed Citi Institutional Clients group (as of October 11, 2007) comprising Citi Markets & Banking (CMB) and Citi Alternative Investments (CAI).

Global Consumer Group

Generating 55% of Citigroup's 2006 revenues, Global Consumer Group comprises four sub-divisions: Cards (credit cards), Consumer Lending Group (Real-Estate Lending, Auto Loans, Student Loans), Consumer Finance, and Retail Banking. Targeting individual consumers as well as small- to medium-sized businesses, GCG offers financial services across its worldwide branch network, including banking, loans, insurance, and investment services. On March 31, 2008, Citigroup announced that it will create 2 new global businesses - Consumer Banking and Global Cards out of the existing Global Consumer Group.

Citi Cards, CitiFinancial, and Citibank

Citi Cards is responsible for around 40% of the profits with GCG, and represents the largest issuer of credit cards across the world as well as a 3,800-point ATM network across 45 countries.

The Consumer Finance division (branded "CitiFinancial") accounts for about 20% of GCG's profits, and offers personal loans and homeowner loans to consumers in 20 countries worldwide. There are over 2,100 branches in the U.S. and Canada. The takeover of Associates First Capital in September 2000 enabled CitiFinancial to expand its reach outside of the United States, particularly capitalizing on Associates' 700,000 customers in Japan and Europe. Citi ended its CitiFinancial operations in the UK in 2008 Finally, the retail bank encompasses the Citi's global branch network, branded Citibank. Citibank is the third largest retail bank in the United States, and it has Citibank branded branches in countries throughout the world, with the exception of Mexico; In Mexico Citigroup's bank operations are branded as Banamex is the country's largest bank and a Citigroup subsidiary.

Global Wealth Management

Global Wealth Management divides itself into Citi Private Bank, Citi Smith Barney and Citi Investment Research, and generated 7% of Citigroup's total revenue in 2006. As revenues are predominantly derived from investment income, Global Wealth Management is more sensitive to the direction and level of the equity and fixed-income markets than other divisions of the company.

Citi Private Bank

Citi Private Bank provides banking and investment services to high net worth individuals, private institutions, and law firms. Acting as a gateway to all of Citigroup's products, Citi Private Bank offer traditional investment products and alternative choices, with all clients assigned a Private Banker to personally deal with their portfolio.

Citi Smith Barney

Citi Smith Barney is Citi's global private wealth management unit, providing brokerage, investment banking and asset management services to corporations, governments and individuals around the world. With over 800 offices worldwide, Smith Barney holds 9.6 million domestic client accounts, representing $1.562 trillion in client assets worldwide.

Citi Investment Research

Citi Investment Research is Citi's equities research unit comprised of 390 research analysts across 22 countries. Citi Investment Research covers 3,100 companies, representing 90 percent of the market capitalization of the major global indices, providing macro and quantitative analysis of global markets and sector trends.

Citigroup Global Services

Citigroup Global Services is the Global Processing Center for Citigroup entities across the globe based mainly out of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai in India.

On 8th October 2008, according to press relase Tata Consultancy Services, a leading IT services, business solutions and outsourcing firm, and Citigroup Inc., a leading global financial services company, today announced that they have reached an agreement for TCS to acquire all of Citi's interest in Citigroup Global Services Limited (CGSL), the India-based captive business processing outsourcing (BPO) arm of Citi for all cash consideration of approximately $505 million, subject to closing adjustments. In addition to the sale, Citi has signed an agreement for TCS to provide, through CGSL, process outsourcing services to Citi and its affiliates in an aggregate amount of US$2.5 billion over a period of 9.5 years. The agreement builds upon the existing relationship between Citi and TCS whereby TCS provides application development, infrastructure support, help desk and other process outsourcing services to Citi.

Citi Institutional Clients Group

Citi announced on October 11, 2007 the formation of the new Institutional Clients Group comprising Citi Markets & Banking (CMB) and Citi Alternative Investments (CAI) with Vikram Pandit, 50, as its Chairman and CEO. Vikram Pandit was promoted to CEO of the entire company two months later.

Citi Markets and Banking

Containing Citi's most market-sensitive divisions, "CMB" is divided into two primary businesses: "Global Capital Markets and Banking" and "Global Transaction Services" (GTS). Global Capital Markets and Banking provides investment- and commercial-banking services covering institutional brokerage, advisory services, foreign exchange, structured products, derivatives, loans, leasing, and equipment finance. Meanwhile, GTS offers cash-management, trade finance and securities services to corporations and financial institutions worldwide. CMB are responsible for around 32% of Citigroup's annual revenues, generating just under US $30 billion in 2006 financial year.

Citi Alternative Investments

Citi Alternative Investments (CAI) is an alternative investment platform that manages assets across five classes - private equity, hedge funds, structured products, managed futures, and real estate. Across 16 "boutique investment centers", it offers various funds or separate accounts that utilize alternative investment strategies, as opposed to the mainstream mutual funds that it recently sold to Legg Mason. CAI manages Citigroup proprietary capital as well as institutional investments from third-parties and high-net-worth investors. As of June 30, 2007, CAI holds US$59.2 billion under capital management, and contributed 7% of Citigroup's 2006 income.

Brands

Citigroup recently acquired the Egg brand when it purchased Egg Banking plc, the world's largest Internet bank, from Prudential. Its first major act was to cease lending to around 7% of card holders who were condsidered to be undesirable. This also included some who regularly paid off balances in full, claiming this was due to "deteriorating credit profiles" but is widely believed to be due to the low profit margins obtained from responsible borrowers.

Real estate

Citigroup's most famous office building is the Citigroup Center, a diagonal-roof skyscraper located in East Midtown, Manhattan, New York City, which despite popular belief is not the company's headquarters building. Citigroup has its headquarters across the street in an anonymous-looking building at 399 Park Avenue (the site of the original location of the City National Bank). The headquarters is outfitted with nine luxury dining rooms, with a team of private chefs preparing a different menu for each day. The management team is on the third and fourth floors above a Citibank branch. Citigroup also leases a building in the TriBeCa neighborhood in Manhattan at 388 Greenwich St, that serves as headquarters for its Investment and Corporate Banking operations and was the former headquarters of the Travelers Group.

Strategically, all of Citigroup's New York City real estate, excluding the company's Smith Barney division and Wall Street trading division, lies along the New York City Subway's IND Queens Boulevard Line, served by the E and V trains. Consequently, the company's Midtown buildings—including 787 Seventh Avenue, 666 Fifth Avenue, 399 Park Avenue, 485 Lexington, 153 East 53rd Street (Citigroup Center), and Citicorp Building in Long Island City, Queens, are all no more than two stops away from each other. In fact, every company building lies above or right across the street from a subway station served by the E or V.

Chicago also plays home to an architectural beauty operated by Citigroup. Citicorp Center has a series of curved archways at its peak, and sits across the street from major competitor ABN AMRO's ABN AMRO Plaza. It has a host of retail and dining facilities serving thousands of Metra customers daily via the Ogilvie Transportation Center.

Citigroup has obtained naming rights to Citi Field, the home ballpark of the New York Mets Major League Baseball team, who will begin playing their home games there in 2009.

Criticism

Citigroup proprietary government bond trading scandal

Citigroup was criticized for disrupting the European bond market by rapidly selling €11 billion worth of bonds on August 2 2004 on the MTS Group trading platform, driving down the price, and then buying it back at cheaper prices.

Regulatory action

On March 23, 2005, the NASD announced total fines of $21.25 million against Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., American Express Financial Advisors and Chase Investment Services regarding suitability and supervisory violations relating to mutual fund sales practices between January 2002 and July 2003. The case against Citigroup involved recommendations and sales of Class B and Class C shares of mutual funds.

On June 6, 2007, the NASD announced more than $15 million in fines and restitution against Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., to settle charges related to misleading documents and inadequate disclosure in retirement seminars and meetings for BellSouth Corp. employees in North Carolina and South Carolina. NASD found that Citigroup did not properly supervise a team of brokers located in Charlotte, N.C., who used misleading sales materials during dozens of seminars and meetings for hundreds of BellSouth employees.

The Terra Securities scandal

In November 2007 it became public that the Citigroup is heavily involved in the Terra Securities scandal, which involved investments by eight municipalities of Norway in various hedge funds in the United States bond market. The funds were sold by Terra Securities ASA to the municipalities, while the products were delivered by Citigroup. Terra Securities ASA filed for bankrupty November 28, 2007, the day after they received a letter from The Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway announcing withdrawal of permissions to operate. The same letter also stated, "The Supervisory Authority contends that Citigroup's presentation, as well as the presentation from Terra Securities ASA, appears insufficient and misleading because central elements like information about potential extra payments and the size of these are omitted."

Theft from customer accounts

On August 26, 2008 it was announced that Citigroup agreed to pay nearly $18 million in refunds and fines to settle accusations by California Attorney General Jerry Brown that it wrongly took funds from the accounts of credit card customers. Citigroup would pay $14 million of restitution to roughly 53,000 customers nationwide. A three-year investigation found that Citigroup from 1992 to 2003 used an improper computerized "sweep" feature to move positive balances from card accounts into the bank's general fund, without telling cardholders.

Brown said in a statement that Citigroup "knowingly stole from its customers, mostly poor people and the recently deceased, when it designed and implemented the sweeps...When a whistleblower uncovered the scam and brought it to his superiors, they buried the information and continued the illegal practice."

Political donations

Citigroup is the 16th largest political campaign contributor, out of all organizations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Members of the firm have donated over $23,033,490 from 1989-2006, 49% of which went to Democrats and 51% of which went to Republicans.

Notes

References

See SEC - Company Information: CITIGROUP INC

See also Citigroup, and Yahoo!

External links

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