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Opinion

Citigroup CEO: Weill he or won’t he?

So Sandy Weill has a successor at last. Or does he? The chairman and CEO of Citigroup has announced that Bob Willumstad is being promoted to president.

He takes over human resources and financial functions, as well as continuing to head the global consumer business.

The post of president has been vacant since Jamie Dimon was forced out three years ago, and the question of who will replace Weill has been left hanging since Weill outmanoeuvred former co-CEO John Reed two years ago. Weill stated that he would try to identify a successor within two years but has done nothing to back that up and has at times appeared to retract the pledge.

The promotion appears to place Willumstad first among equals among the business heads - head of investment banking Michael Carpenter, head of emerging markets Victor Menezes, head of asset management Thomas Jones - and above vice-chairman and former head of Salomon Brothers Deryck Maughan.

It's strikingly similar to the succession race at Merrill Lynch. There the president's role (combined with chief operating officer) had been vacant for two years and the four heads of business were competing for it until, ahead of schedule, CEO David Komansky said that private-client boss Stan O'Neal would get the job.

That prompted the departure of Jeff Peek, head of asset management, and Win Smith, head of international private clients.

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