Pandit Passed Over As Citi Chief—For Now

Nov 5 2007 | 7:31am ET

Widely tipped this weekend to be handed the reins at the United States’ largest bank, former hedge fund chief Vikram Pandit will have to wait at least a little longer.

When Citigroup chairman and CEO Charles Prince resigned on Sunday, the bank’s board of directors named former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin its new chairman, and picked former Schroders executive Winfried Bischoff to serve as interim CEO. Rubin said, soon after Prince’s offer to quit was accepted, that a search committee “will work as expeditiously as possible” to find his successor. Rubin, who has headed the bank’s executive committee since 1999, will reportedly step down when a new leadership structure is put into place.

When rumors of Prince’s planned resignation began to swirl on Friday, many expected the 50-year-old Pandit, an Indian native who has been at Citi for just eight months, to take his place. Pandit joined the bank earlier this year when Citi bought his Old Lane Partners hedge fund, naming him head of its alternatives group. Just last month, he was appointed chief of its newly-merged alternative investments and investment banking division.

According to the New York Post, “Pandit is seen internally as a savvy, hands-on manager who knows the ways of Wall Street.” One Citi insider told the tabloid, “Vikram can come in here, cut the fat and start getting the stock price up.” Others have reportedly described him as “tentative” and “reluctant,” according to The New York Times.

Still, Pandit—who was seen as a possible successor to former Morgan Stanley CEO Philip Purcell before leaving that firm in 2004 after a management shakeup—remains the top internal candidate to replace Prince. Other possible successors include New York Stock Exchange CEO John Thain.

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