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Trading chief of Citigroup will leave group

Trading chief will leave Citigroup Inc. after almost $6 billion of losses and bad-debt costs.

Thomas Maheras and a top fixed-income executive, Randy Barker, are leaving the New York-based firm, Chief Executive Officer Charles Prince said yesterday in a telephone interview. Pandit, 50, joined the bank as head of alternative investments earlier this year when it bought his hedge fund for $800 million.

Maheras, 44, and Barker 48, are the first casualties at Citigroup following its disclosure last week that profits fell 60 percent in the third quarter because of losses tied to the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Merrill Lynch & Co., Bear Stearns Cos., and UBS AG have already announced high-level firings after being forced to book losses as a result of three months of credit turmoil.

"The company could have managed the turbulent credit markets better than it did, and obviously they're making personnel changes to address the problem," said Mark Batty, a financial-services analyst at PNC Wealth Management in Philadelphia, which oversees $77 billion, including about 6.9 million Citigroup shares. "They want personnel in place who are going to take risks but not undue risks."

Citigroup shares have fallen 13 percent this year, more than rivals. Bank of America Corp., the second-biggest U.S. bank, has declined 1.8 percent, while JPMorgan Chase & Co., the third largest, is down 3.4 percent.

The performance has ignited Prince's critics. Deutsche Bank AG Analyst Michael Mayo joined a chorus of investors last week in calling for his ouster, four years after he took over from Sanford Weill. The company, which says it has 200 million customers in more than 100 countries, would be worth more to shareholders if broken up, Mayo said.

"Prince's fate may depend on how big the losses eventually get," Yoji Takeda, who helps manage about $900 million at RBC Investment (Asia) Ltd. in Hong Kong, said after the management shakeup was announced.

Pandit, a former professor at New York's Columbia University, joined Morgan Stanley as a banker in 1983. He is credited with helping the firm win more initial stock offerings and creating an electronic-trading system that cut transaction costs by 50 percent from 2002 to 2004.

He ran the firm's biggest and most-profitable division, investment-banking and trading, for five years before quitting in March 2005 during a power struggle under then-CEO Philip Purcell.

Source: Bloomberg
Date: 12.10.2007 [112]

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