Citigroup Unloads Andrew Hall

cityfile · 10/09/09 07:56AM

Citigroup has solved its Andrew Hall problem. The man in charge of the bank's commodities trading unit, Philbro—and the man who'd created a major headache in recent weeks since he'd been guaranteed a bonus of $100 million while Citigroup still owes the federal government $45 billion—will have a new parent by the end of the year. Citi has announced it's selling the unit to the oil company Occidental Petroleum. One problem down, only a few thousand more to go! [Reuters]

Bob Dylan Sells Out to Citigroup

cityfile · 09/30/09 08:07AM

Were you aware that Bob Dylan is releasing a Christmas album next month? The story gets even stranger today. It seems Dylan has now inked a deal with the America's most troubled financial institution to help market it:

And Now For a Few Words of Advice From Citigroup

cityfile · 09/16/09 03:06PM

Do you remember Citigroup's "Live Richly" ad campaign from a few years ago? The bank spent more than $100 million plastering American cities with various cheeky sayings from 2001 to 2005. When the campaign was first introduced, it was during the mini-recession of 2001, and since Citi's existence wasn't threatened during that particular downturn, the bank managed to find some humor in the fact many Americans had lost their jobs or weren't earning as much as they had in the past. If you look back at them now, though, you'll see that they contain lots of useful advice for the 53,000 people who have been laid off by the bank over the past year ("Make ends meet. Bend down and touch your toes"), as well as the Citi employees who have managed to hang on, but who won't be collecting fat bonuses now that the federal government owns a third of the bank ("Go on a spending diet, but don't forget to sneak a little dessert"). Click here to experience the irony in all its embarrassing glory.

Dick Parsons Is Ready For a New Challenge, Clearly

cityfile · 09/16/09 10:08AM

Citigroup chairman Dick Parsons hasn't been all that successful in fixing the ailing bank. Although Citi indicated yesterday that plans to reduce the government's stake in the bank—and return part of the $45 billion of taxpayer money it's received—it remains the most troubled major financial institution in America. (And it continues to be led by Vikram Pandit, who is probably the worst CEO of a major financial institution that still has a full-time job.) But don't let that stop you from pursuing a little freelance work, Dick.

One Recession Ends, Another One Looms?

cityfile · 09/15/09 08:33AM

There's lot of financial news to be cheerful about today. According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the worst recession since the Great Depression is "probably over" at this point, which is certainly nice to hear even if Bernanke did say that it would be some time before the economy really turned around and new jobs were created. But that's not all!

A Changing of the Guard at Morgan Stanley

cityfile · 09/11/09 10:29AM

John Mack announced plans to step down as Morgan Stanley's CEO at the end of the year. He'll won't be departing the bank entirely: Mack will become Morgan's chairman on January 1, and the chief executive role will be handed over to James Gorman, the former McKinsey consultant and Merrill Lynch exec who joined Morgan Stanley four years ago and now heads up the firm's brokerage business. Mack has been making plans to retire long before the financial crisis battered the bank. But the events of the past year certainly played a role in the change in power, and what sort of legacy Mack will leave behind remains an open question.

Another Dem Fundraiser Goes Down

cityfile · 08/25/09 10:36AM

Steve Rattner has some company today: One more prominent Upper East Side financier and Democratic mega-fundraiser is now facing an embarrassing financial scandal. Hassan Nemazee, who served as the New York finance chairman for John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004 and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hillary Clinton and, later, Barack Obama, was arrested on charges he "tricked" Citigroup into lending him as much as $74 million using phony documents. Nemazee was charged with one count of bank fraud and is expected to appear in federal court this afternoon. Although judging by some of Nemazee's shady political tactics over the years, it's possible that this wasn't first time he's forged a document or two. [Bloomberg]

Dick Parsons' Annual Vacation Couldn't Come Sooner

cityfile · 08/14/09 02:03PM

The past six months or so haven't been much fun for Dick Parsons, the former chairman and CEO of Time Warner. Back in May, it was revealed that he'd had a child with his mistress, who also happened to be 29 years his junior. Since the beginning of the year, he's served as chairman of the board of Citigroup, and that hasn't gone all that well, has it? But you'll be happy to hear that Parsons' personal troubles are about to melt away very shortly. The grape harvesting season in Tuscany kicks off in few weeks, which means Parsons will soon be heading off to his winery in Montalcino, Italy! At least that's what he usually does every September when he turns up to lend a helping hand and pluck grapes off the vines personally. Parsons has called visits to Il Palazzone a form of "mental medicine." A few pics of the therapy that awaits him are below.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

John Cook · 07/21/09 03:22PM

The St. Regis Monarch Beach, the rich-people hotel that AIG executives partied at after getting all their bailout money, couldn't pay its bills and so now a bailed-out Citigroup owns it. And it's losing money. Your money.

The Lonely Life of Vikram Pandit

cityfile · 06/26/09 11:30AM

It's lonely at the top, as you may have heard. But we didn't realize it was this lonely. According to BusinessWeek, a big bunch of CEOs have joined social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, but most of them have very few friends to speak of:

Wall Street: Wednesday Edition

cityfile · 06/24/09 08:03AM

• There's a shortage of banking industry CEOs—decent ones, at least—which explains why Vikram Pandit is still in charge at Citigroup and Ken Lewis is still running the show at Bank of America. "The best players won't risk their careers going to a troubled enterprise," explains one recruiting expert. [WSJ]
Andrew Cuomo has been investigating pension fund corruption for the past few months. Now his own ties to just such an entity are raising questions. [BN]
• Wanna invest in a hedge fund? You're in luck. A number of them are looking to diversify their investor bases and are now targeting the middle class. [NYP]
• Stocks rose this morning ahead of a report by the Fed this afternoon. [CNN]
• Good news for JPMorgan Chase: It's "the world's strongest bank." [DB]
• Good news for Barclays: Its name will grace a Brooklyn subway station. [NYT]
• Jeffry Picower was once considered one of Bernie Madoff's victims. Not so much any longer, now that it appears he withdrew as much as $5 billion from his various Madoff accounts between 1995 and 2008. [ProPublica]

The Apple Building?

cityfile · 06/22/09 03:30PM

Darcy Stacom, the commercial real estate broker who convinced Mort Zuckerman's Boston Properties to pay $3.5 billion to buy the GM building in 2008, has suggested that Apple cough up a few bucks and pay Zuckerman for the right to rename the tower, so it doesn't sport the name of a bankrupt automaker. Let's hope Steve Jobs sets aside his health issues and moves quickly on this opportunity to plant a glowing white apple at the top of the skyscraper. Considering Zuckerman has already turned the "Citigroup Center" into "601 Lexington Avenue," the GM building may turn into the much blander-sounding "767 Fifth Avenue" if he doesn't. [Reuters]

Wall Street: Monday Edition

cityfile · 06/22/09 08:09AM

• Employees at Goldman Sachs can expect the "biggest bonus payouts in the firm's 140-year history after a spectacular first half of the year." [Guardian]
• Banks like Merrill Lynch, UBS and Citigroup are "hiking pay for their top investment bankers in an attempt to stop an exodus of talent." [FT]
• Bill Gross of Pimco has "emerged as one of the nation's most influential financiers." How do we know this? Tim Geithner has him on speed-dial. [NYT]
• Russian-American billionaire Len Blavatnik is suing JPMorgan for allegedly mismanaging an investment account with $1 billion in assets. [NYT]
Jack Welch is lending his name to a new online MBA program. [WSJ]
• Warren Buffett auctions off lunch every year for charity. The bidding is open, but it's not expected to rake in the fortune it did in years past. [Guardian]

It's Good to Be CEO

cityfile · 06/22/09 07:48AM

According to Crain's, New York's 100 top-paid executives took home $1.2 billion in compensation last year. And a handful of them, it turns out, are execs who happen to work at banks that received bailouts from Washington: "Number four on the list is Goldman's CEO Lloyd Blankfein, with $42.9 million. Following him is Citigroup's CEO Vikram Pandit, raking in $38.2 million. Jamie Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase, comes next in line with $35.7 million. Goldman and JPMorgan, which received $10 billion and $25 billion, respectively, in government aid, have recently moved to repay the funds. Citigroup is still saddled with the $45 billion in aid it's accepted." Topping the list, in case you're wondering, is Peter Kraus of Alliance Bernstein, who was paid $52 million just to take the job. But American taxpayers also had a hand in making 2008 a very good year for Kraus: In addition to his take from Alliance, he earned $25 million for the three months he put in at Merrill Lynch in late 2008. [NYP]

Surprise! Banking CEOs Fond of Luxury, Waste Money

cityfile · 06/19/09 11:47AM

Did the Wall Street Journal really think people would fall over in disbelief at the news that the CEOs of a few bailed-out banks used their corporate jets to fly off on vacation? Like, last Christmas? By now, you've probably figured out that these companies blow tons of money on not-so-important things. (Like, say, office renovations, or jaunts to the Olympics and Wimbledon aboard their company jets.) If the paper really wants to break a story open wide, perhaps it could look into why a JPMorgan Chase-owned Gulfstream G-V was on the tarmac at a small airport in Brazil that happens to be known as a major transfer point for South American drug cartels? (See above.) Now that could be something big! [WSJ]

Wall Street: Thursday Morning

cityfile · 06/11/09 07:14AM

• Showdown in DC: Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis is testifying before a House committee today and getting a pounding, as expected. [WSJ, Dealbreaker]
• Will Citigroup ever get its house in order? FDIC boss Sheila Bair would like some answers, not that the board—or Vikram Pandit—have any. [NYT]
Jim Simons held talks recently to sell a stake in his hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, but has decided against retiring for the time being. [WSJ]
• BlackRock is close to a deal to acquire Barclays Global Investors for $13 billion; the deal would make the Larry Fink-led company the world's largest money manager, with $2.8 trillion in assets under management. [WSJ]
• JPMorgan Chase is acquiring the piece of Glenn Dubin and Henry Swieca's Highbridge Capital Management that it does not already own. [DB]
• AIG is moving out of its downtown HQ now that the company has sold off the real estate to a Korean bank and a US developer for $100+ million. [FT]
• Better than expected unemployment data and retail sales figures have lifted the major markets this morning. [CNN, BN, CNN]

Girlfight at Citigroup!

cityfile · 06/10/09 01:00PM

Citigroup could be focusing its attention on salvaging what remains of the broken bank, or restoring what remains of its reputation. Or it could just keep filing lawsuits against people over silly little things and charge it back to taxpayers. Not content, apparently, with flexing its muscle in the mobile billboard market and illustrious pawn shop industry, Citigroup's team of $900-an hour attorneys is now focusing its firepower on a website called, which bills itself as a networking site for "career-minded women," and is owned by Citi, you see, operates a female-centric money management business called Women & Co. and the bank is now concerned that the public will confuse its "women" with their "women." So Citi slapped the company with a lawsuit on Monday, arguing that violated its trademark and is threatening its status as "one of the largest and most renowned banking and financial institutions in the United States and throughout the world." (Citigroup's words, not ours, obviously.) The full suit is below, if you'd like to have a look. You might as well. You paid for it.

Wall Street: Wednesday Edition

cityfile · 06/10/09 08:53AM

• Chrysler's alliance with Fiat is a done deal. [CNN]
• Good news, bankers: The Obama administration is dropping its plan to cap salaries at firms receiving government bailout money. [WSJ]
• Citigroup is swapping $58 billion of preferred stock into common shares, a move that will make the U.S. government the bank's largest shareholder. [BN]
• The ten banks that were given to go-ahead to repay U.S. aid had planned on returning a combined $68.3 billion. Add another $4.6 billion to the tab! [DB]
• FDIC chair Sheila Bair stirred the pot the other day when she said she hoped to oust Citi's Vikram Pandit. Now both sides are defusing tensions. [FT]
• Hedgie John Paulson is investing $100 million in CB Richard Ellis. [WSJ]