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Saudi prince to Pandit: Restore Citi`s stature

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 - 13:41

Washington: Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal, who is a major investor in Citigroup, says he has told the banking giant`s Indian American CEO Vikram Pandit that it`s time for him to restore the bank`s stature.

"I met Vikram [Pandit]. I told him, `The honeymoon is over now and 2010 has to be the year whereby you begin showing the world that you are a force to be reckoned with and get back Citigroup`s name to where it was pre-2007 crisis,`" he told US business magazine Forbes.

"So right now we hope that the worst is over," he said essentially repeating what he had said in an interview with FOX Business last week about telling Pandit that the honeymoon is over and he must deliver solid results in 2010.

"Well, so far, Vikram has been executing very, very meticulously since he took over in 2007," Al-Waleed said when asked by Forbes "How hard did he (Pandit) gulp?"
"But I told him the honeymoon is over right now. So he had two years, two full years of honeymoon. But I think now, you paid TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Programme), the worst of the credit crisis, the economic crisis is behind you. The exposure of Citibank in the minimal, in the commercial debt is minimal."

"So the only real issue we have right now is the consumers and more specifically, the mortgage. They are monitoring the unemployment numbers very closely because it is directly linked to delinquency rates that may effect, negatively or positively, the deposits in Citibank."
Asked if the bank was going to have any major initiatives in 2010, Al-Waleed said: "I think the growth will be organic in Citibank. But the big issue right now is how to unload all the assets in Citi Holdings, which is, really, the bank that they want to get rid of. That`s where all the controversial and loss-making assets are parked in."

On whether he was interested in other financial companies too, Al-Waleed said: "We`re very happy with Citibank right now. Our (interest) right now is 3.25 (percent), so there is potential for this thing to grow from double to triple in the next three, four, five years, provided that the new management headed by Vikram delivers on its plan."


First Published: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 - 13:41
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