Vikram to Sandy: You Were Wrong Then, and You’re Wrong Now

And so the Vikram Pandit Sandy Weill Refutation Tour continued: Yesterday, the current Citigroup chief executive told The Financial Times that Citigroup was already right-sized. Which is to say, the bank didn’t need to broken up, as Sandy Weill, former CEO and architect of the mergers that created the banking behemoth, told CNBC last month.From the FT:

“What’s left here is essentially the old Citicorp,” he told the Financial Times. “That’s a tried and proven strategy. Why did it work? Because it was a strategy based upon operating the business and serving clients and not a strategy based on dealmaking. That’s the fundamental difference.”

Take that for what you will—The Times argued that today’s Citi is more reliant on Wall Street businesses than previous incarnations: “In 1998, Citicorp’s trading revenue was 8 percent of its total revenue. By contrast, trading revenue last year accounted for 23 percent of the Citicorp unit’s total.”

And move on to today’s tour stop, during which Mr. Pandit said during an appearance in Singapore that the 1998 merger between Citicorp and Travelers Group—the Weill-designed deal that created the blueprint for the mega-banks that came to dominate the financial industry in the decade to come—“didn’t turn out to be everything people thought it was going to be.

“The focus of that merger,” Mr. Pandit continued, according to Bloomberg, “which was supermarket banking or financial supermarket, is a strategy that I don’t believe is right for the times. Not only that, I don’t believe it’s right for our bank.”

That didn’t sound so far from Mr. Weill’s comments on CNBC (“I think that the earlier model was right for that time… I don’t think it’s right anymore”), but rather than complain, we prefer to look forward to what Mr. Pandit might say tomorrow.


Vikram to Sandy: You Were Wrong Then, and You’re Wrong Now