The year 2009 will see Citigroup getting back to basics for survival.
Citigroup has confirmed that it wants to merge its brokerage business, Smith Barney with Morgan Stanely, a move that would mark the beginning of the break up of the troubled banking giant.
The WSJ also reports that Citi will soon unveil a major restructuring plan. The slimmed down Citigroup, shrunk by almost third of its current balance sheet would look much like the pre-merger Citicorp.
Citigroup’s moves to downsize itself and shed its unprofitable business has entered a serious phase in the face of its fifth straight quarter of loss.
Citigroup will shed two consumer-finance units and the company’s private-label credit-card business, and scale back on the trading the company does on its own behalf.
The report adds that Citigroup now plans to narrow its focus to large corporations and rich individuals. The banking major will dump or shrink businesses that cater to less-affluent customers. The revamp of the troubled banking giant is expected to be announced on January 22, in conjunction with its fourth quarter earnings.
Such bolder moves aimed at the breakup of Citigroup, however represents a major departure from the company’s so-called “universal bank” business model, which has been in place for more than a decade following the merger between Citicorp and insurance company Travelers in 1998.
Citigroup grew from a small consumer-finance business into one of the world’s largest financial institutions, with more than 300,000 employees in more than 100 countries.
Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit had maintained his commitment to the company’s position as a one-stop financial shop for businesses and individuals as recently as the last fall.
Citigroup received an investment of $45 billion from the Treasury Department as part of the US government’s bailout program.