Help Vikram Pandit rename Citi’s subprime lender

June 2, 2010

Vikram Pandit needs help. The Citigroup boss isn’t wanting for more taxpayer funds but could do with some creative brainpower. Pandit is reorganizing CitiFinancial, the subprime lender he’s also trying to sell by closing a fifth of its branch network.

But the shake-up also includes renaming the unit. So as a public service to help part-U.S.-owned Citi avoid forking over fees to branding consultants, Breakingviews has some ideas.

First up, there’s Weill-Away Finance Corp. That would be a fitting tribute to Sandy Weill, the man who built Citigroup. After all, CitiFinancial’s predecessor was Commercial Credit, Weill’s first acquisition on the road to building his megabank.

A tip of the hat might befit Weill’s successor, Charles Prince, under whose reign Citi ramped up its subprime business — and lost billions. Up-Chuck Savings and Loan might be a tad unkind. Alternatively, there’s Dirty Banking, a homage to Prince’s July 2007 crisis cracker: “As long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance … We’re still dancing.”

A fitting tribute to Citi’s current chief, who has spent his two-and-half-year tenure trying to sort out the mess he inherited, might be New Lane Corp, which would optimistically nod to Pandit’s shuttered hedge fund Old Lane.

Subprime Holdings Investment Turnaround Co, could work, as it speaks cheerfully to the improving fortunes of the unit after the crash. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make for the most appealing acronym.

A better choice might be Green Financial. Who wouldn’t want to allude to the almighty dollar while simultaneously suggesting just how environmentally friendly the company might be? Shame about all that toxic subprime sludge it created, though.

Maybe Citi could take a page out of GMAC’s bankbook. Its financial arm became the chummy-sounding Ally Bank. Given the tendency of subprime lenders to lend a-plenty in boom times only to fade away in a crisis, Fair Weather Financial might be more fitting for Citi’s offspring.

Or the firm could reference its broad franchise — it has some 1,800 branches in 48 U.S. states, after all. So, how about National American Bank Corp? Serendipitously, the name NAB Corp also covers the juicy fees the firm can rake in from lending to less qualified borrowers. A more cynical moniker to reflect this could be H.O.F. Lenders — or Hand-over-Fist.

More ideas are welcome. Send suggestions to debate@reuters.com or leave a comment below.

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