In an abrupt move, Vikram Pandit stepped down as CEO of Citigroup on Tuesday after steering the bank through 2008 financial crisis and the choppy years that followed.
A statement from chairman Michael O’Neill said Michael Corbat, previously chief executive for Europe, Middle East and
Africa, would succeed Pandit as CEO. The shock change at the top of the bank comes just a day after a surprisingly strong quarterly earnings report.
Chief operating officer John Havens, a long-time associate of Pandit, also resigned. Within minutes of the announcement, Nagpur-born Pandit’s name was gone from the bank’s website.
“Given the progress we have made in the last few years, I have concluded that now is the right time for someone else to take the helm at Citigroup,” Pandit, 55, said in a statement.
The bank offered no explanation for the departure of its two top executives.
On Monday, Citigroup announced third-quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations, after stripping out one-time items like a big write-down it had to take because it got less money than it had hoped when it negotiated to sell its stake in its retail brokerage.
Investors were pleased with the results and sent the stock up more than 5% on Monday, rising $1.91 to close at $36.66.
Pandit, 55, said in a statement that "now is the right time for someone else to take the helm at Citigroup" after the bank "emerged from the financial crisis as a strong institution."
Pandit joined Citigroup in 2007 when the hedge fund he founded was acquired by the bank. He quickly rose to CEO in December 2007. Earlier, he had ascended to head of investment banking at Morgan Stanley before leaving in 2005 to form the hedge fund.
A native of India, Pandit attended Columbia University at 16 and completed a bachelor's degree in three years. He earned a doctorate in finance in 1986.
Pandit faced harsh criticism after Citigroup took $45 billion in government bailout money in the 2008 credit crisis.
It is widely believed that other, stronger banks were forced to take billions in bailout money to divert attention from Citigroup, whose financial situation was more precarious.
The US Treasury sold the last of its stake in the company in December 2010.