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Opinion

Vikram Pandit, CEO at Citi: The job no-one wanted

Vikram Pandit faces one of the toughest challenges ever seen in the banking industry.

The sudden rise of Vikram Pandit to be chief executive at Citi, the biggest job in global banking, almost beggars belief. He is an excellent man but he is taking on an extraordinarily tough job – one for which it is not clear that he is properly qualified – at a very difficult time.

Euromoney first encountered Pandit in the early 1990s when he was running the equity markets division of Morgan Stanley. Bright, engaging and friendly, Pandit was a respected and popular figure whose colleagues back then wondered whether he might head Morgan Stanley one day.

It never quite happened. And after 22 years in various roles running institutional securities businesses at the firm, he lost out in the political battles in the awful last days of the Purcell regime, quitting when rival Zoe Cruz was promoted over him. It seemed one of myriad Wall Street careers if not exactly petering out, then gently winding down in familiar and comfortable fashion: having risen high in investment banking and earned a lot of money, Pandit founded a hedge fund.

Citi bought his fund out in the middle of 2007. Pandit briefly ran alternative investments. Then, as the credit crisis gripped and senior Citi managers were lined up and sacrificed, he ran the global markets divisions of the huge bank.

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