As I crossed the hotel lobby lounge, I glimpsed the fluorescent striped jumper again. This time Weill was seated with the owner of the George V, Prince Alwaleed
Talking of which, it was a snowy Saturday morning when I nearly elbowed a grey-haired avuncular American in the ribs – such was the melee around the concierge desk at the luxurious Hotel George V in Paris. I could tell he was American because he was wearing one of those jumpers Americans always sport (you know, baby pink lambswool or, in this case, multi-coloured stripes going the wrong way because the gentleman in question was slightly tubby: think “skittle shaped”). “Be careful with your elbows,” hissed my best girlfriend – also an ex-investment banker. “That’s Sandy Weill next to you.”
And so it was. Suddenly, the avuncular one appeared less avuncular when I realized he was the legendary and supposedly über-ruthless Citigroup chairman, who will finally relinquish the reins of power next month aged 73. But do giants like Weill ever really retire, or do they just mature like good wine?
Later that evening, as I crossed the hotel lobby lounge, I glimpsed the fluorescent striped jumper again. This time Weill was seated with the owner of the George V, Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia (who is one of Citigroup’s largest shareholders).
The prince was doing a lot of hand-waving... I wonder what that was all about? Perhaps his royal highness could not contain himself while thanking Weill for all his endeavours at Citi’s helm. Maybe he was just admiring Sandy’s jumper. But then the performance of Citi’s share price can’t exactly be described as stellar in the past few years, can it? I suppose if I had billions of dollars invested in a lacklustre stock, I might do a bit of hand-waving myself!
Next month, a US bank that has lost its way and what senior management should do to prevent Armageddon...