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Ajay Banga demolishes Citi’s Asia-Pac silos

Even before the global financial crisis fully hit home, Citi had recognized that its successful Asia-Pacific division could perform even better with a more centralized structure. Ajay Banga has put that in place, but the full impact of the changes might not be apparent for a while. Elliot Wilson reports.

Why Banga quit Citi

June 2009

Ajay Banga, Citi

"The new structure is designed to bring us closer together as a firm to serve clients without diluting the strength of any one business"

Ajay Banga, Citi

THE FINANCIAL WORLD of March 2008 was very different to the one we now inhabit. One of the most over-leveraged of US investment banks, Bear Stearns, was being bundled up and sold for a song to JPMorgan; another, Lehman Brothers, was but months from unwitting bankruptcy. In the UK, "bailout" was still a dirty word, and "nationalization" had barely been used since the 1970s.

Yet at one global lender, then the biggest of them all, life was still being lived in the past. A year back Citi’s Asia-Pacific division, directed out of Hong Kong and Tokyo, still operated as a clunky, silo-driven structure that had changed little since the $140 billion merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group in 1998.

Across the world’s most populous region, from Tokyo to Sydney and Beijing to Mumbai, consumer banking, institutional clients and wealth management operated as virtually isolated divisions, overseen by product heads that reported directly into New York.

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