The Citi lifer selected to lead bank after Pandit

Tim Wallace
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CITIGROUP’S board unanimously voted in favour of raising Mike Corbat to the role of chief executive when Vikram Pandit quit yesterday, rewarding the European head for decades of service at the bank.

Corbat has a long history both retail and investment banking, and takes charge at a time when Citi has largely turned itself around, with the third quarter results showing a healthy underlying business.

He wrote to staff yesterday to express the weight of responsibility he feels in taking on the top job.

“I am both humbled by the confidence the board has placed in me, and excited by the prospect of working closely with our management team and the board to take our company forward,” he said in a memo.

“I say this as a true believer in this company: I have spent my entire career here and have had the opportunity to see first-hand the dedication, talent, and innovative spirit that for 200 years has been the hallmark of how we serve our clients and the communities around the world in which we operate.”

That career spans areas including capital markets, corporate and commercial banking, wealth management, mortgages and credit cards.

And in the financial crisis Corbat did his bit to restructure the bank by selling off of more than 40 businesses.

“He has consistently delivered impressive bottom-line results at many of our major global business units and has forged a strong track record of improving efficiency,” said chairman Michael O’Neill.

But the Harvard graduate’s time in business does stretch a little way before his time at Citi.

When at university he established MCI Enterprises, a contractor.

“We do a lot of clean-up work. We paint, landscape and do some light construction. But most of these aren’t small jobs. We work in large buildings and large facilities requiring eight to 10 people per job,” he told The Harvard Crimson publication back in 1982.

At the time Corbat was an American football star for the university.

“He’s always been competitive in sports,” his mother told the Crimson. “But he’s always been able to make a dollar on his own.”

The profile also noted Corbat’s looks and charm: “The ladies who serve and prepare the food at Currier House all have crushes on Mike Corbat.”