Is McQuade now Pandit’s heir apparent?

By Felix Salmon
July 9, 2009

Yes, Vikram Pandit is still a robot. Here’s his latest press release:

Vikram Pandit, Chief Executive Officer of Citigroup, today announced several senior management changes to support the company’s business and strategic priorities and to ensure that proper management is secured to lead these efforts.

“Our relentless focus on executing against our strategic priorities at Citi continues as we remain focused on rationalizing Citi Holdings, and on Citicorp as our core operating business,” Mr. Pandit said. “We are making consistent and substantial progress towards these goals. The senior management changes I am making today will further help in positioning our company for the future.”

Some of these changes make sense — Bill Rhodes, for instance, was always CEO of Citibank more in name than in fact. But others simply smack of yet more deckchair rearrangement, especially after the last reshuffle, in August, has already been re-reshuffled. It can’t be good that Citigroup is now on its fifth CFO in as many years. And it’s certainly not good that Pandit announces these major changes with a bunch of meaningless management jargon instead of any kind of vision.

Those first two paragraphs of the Citi press release are worth reading closely, since they reveal how utterly vapid the Citi business model really is. When all you can do is talk in a pro-forma way about “strategic priorities” and “positioning our company for the future”, it’s pretty clear that you don’t really have a clue what you’re doing, or why.

CEOs always resort to increasingly-frantic and increasingly-frequent management reshuffles before they themselves are ousted. And with the well-respected commercial banker Gene McQuade now running Citibank, I suspect the board will be mulling seriously whether they should elevate him to the top job. I give him a year to prove himself at Citibank, and then, if he succeeds, the poisoned chalice that is the job of Citigroup CEO is probably his if he wants it.

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