Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Citi And Vikram Pandit Putting Their Mouth Where Future Business is

The third largest U.S. bank by assets is rightly upbeat about expanding business in the Asian and Latin American markets

By Francis Adams

Vikram Pandit
Citigroup Inc., CEO Vikram Pandit is putting his mouth where the bank's future business is - the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America, thus, laying to rest calls from his predecessor Sandy Weill that Top U.S. banks must split into smaller ones to help taxpayers save money.

  Citi, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, on Tuesday, became the first global and Western bank to offer standalone credit cards in China, that is, without having to tie up with any local bank or financial institution.
  Last week, Citi Asia Pacific swept a whopping 26 awards involving corporate/institutional and consumer banks. Of the 15 trophies it won from 16 contenders in the corporate/institutional internet banks in Asian markets category, four -- Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka  -- made their debut victories.
 Of the 14 consumer markets in the Asia Pacific region, Citi won the Best Consumer Internet Bank in seven including Australia, Guam, Indonesia, India, Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.
 Citi is trying to wriggle out of the slump it has experienced from the Saturated U.S. and UK and other European markets as well as the slide in trading and investment banking.

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  Currently, 50 per cent of the bank's business comes from emerging markets. "When you look at our business, the biggest growth trend is in our ability and our requirement to serve those emerging-market multinationals in the way we used to serve and continue to serve some of the developed-market multinationals," Pandit told the Financial Times.
  The newspaper reported that from the time Pandit tookover, Citi had successfully shed $600bn in assets and 60 different companies under its banner. As a result, Pandit said, the current Citi is essentially the old Citicorp.
  "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 deal making. That's the fundamental difference," Pandit told FT.
  The back to basics approach is undoubtedly reflected throughout Citi and is paying it rich reward. Last week, Citi Cards CEO, Jud Linville, while referring to its customers wrote in a blog on the bank's web site: "We keep working to improve the basics. Over the next few months, you will begin receiving a redesigned monthly statement that is easier to read and understand. Based on your input, we simplified the format to fit on a regular letter-size piece of paper so your statement is easier to file. Your payment information is highlighted right upfront where you can find it quickly, along with a summary of any rewards or benefits you have earned."

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