Sandy Weill and John Reed: Can Citigroup get in step?
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Sandy Weill and John Reed: Can Citigroup get in step?

The fans love them both. Weill, the deal maker, is adored by Travelers' employees who hold big stakes in the company. Meanwhile Reed has kept his iron grip on Citibank by juggling his managers and mastering detail. The culture of the two companies is as different as the style of their CEOs. But the combination could be spectacular - if they can make it work. Peter Lee takes in the show.

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Anyone wanting to experience at first hand the different styles of Sandy Weill, chairman of Travelers, and John Reed, chairman of Citicorp, could have done worse than attend the annual stockholders' meetings of the two companies, held on consecutive days in late April in New York: their last before the two companies merge later this year to become Citigroup.

Citicorp held its meeting in an auditorium in its own headquarters at 399 Park Avenue. It was a low-key, almost dull, affair for a company that had just surprised the financial world by announcing the largest merger in history. Reed himself conducted the formalities with confidence and polish enough, introducing the board directors up for re-election who were seated in the front rows of the auditorium and who stood and turned briefly to the audience.

Related: A bad case of sibling rivalry

For most of the meeting, he deflected with politeness, restraint and the odd flash of humour the cranks and pontificating self-publicists who attend these affairs in the US. One stockholder congratulated him for saving money on the merger by not employing investment bankers, a good idea she said "because all you CEOs know each other anyway".

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