Citi’s CEO, Vikram Pandit Takes New Tack

November 25, 2008

Vikram Pandit, Citigroup’s embattled CEO, appears to be taking a new tack in his attempt to stay at the top of the bank and find a way to help turn it around.  The self-effacing executive is going to do a brief stint on TV.  Tonight he will Vikram Panditbe on Charlie Rose.  According to a piece by Francisco Guerrera in last week’s Financial Times,

(Pandit’s) efforts to stay out of the limelight have been fruitless. Citi’s share price has disintegrated amid fears it will add billions of dollars in fresh losses to the $50bn-plus (£34bn, €40bn) in writedowns it has already suffered. This week the shares halved, putting the 51-year-old executive under huge pressure to save Citi, and himself, from a grim future, which could involve a fire-sale, a break-up, or even a government takeover.    


… Citi’s stunning decline has increased the scrutiny of Mr Pandit’s personality and management philosophy and raised questions over whether his methodical, technocratic style is what the company needs to survive. When asked to point out Mr Pandit’s most visible attributes, friends and foes point to his sharp mind and calm, professorial manner.


… Despite being a Wall Street star, Mr. Pandit steered clear of the glitzy trappings – golf, flashy cars, wines and cigars – craved by most bankers. He devotes most of his free time to Swati, his wife of over 20 years, and their two children.


He has finally recognized that spreadsheets and analysis are just part of the game of managing.  It is a little late to be working on public relations but his decision to be interviewed on TV is a start.  I recommend readers check out the Charlie Rose interview, there actually might be some interesting insights. Could this be the beginning of a whole new approach for Pandit?  For more:  NY Times DealBook 11/26   Reuters (update)