Where to for Citigroup?

Simon Hobbs, |Presenter, 'The Leaders'

So, Citigroup is not interested in buying Lehman Brothers or UBS. Perhaps it's not that surprising a revelation from its Chairman Sir Win Bischoff, who in an interview with me for CNBC's 'The Leaders' is also anxious to play down suggestions that his and CEO Vikram Pandit's backgrounds in investment banking will lead to an elevation of that business within the American giant.

Assets worth $400 billion may be up for sale, but the German-born 67-year-old who first sold London's Schroders to Citi gives the clear impression that grabbing opportunities for wealth management and consumer banking in emerging markets is the pressing imperative. Since being parachuted in - originally as Citi's CEO with the dramatic resignation of Chuck Prince in November - Sir Win proudly boasts of raising $42.5bn in fresh capital, of which $18.2bn from the Sovereign Wealth Funds.

But they're 'too sophisticated' to want seats on the board and voting rights, he argues.  Whilst they can expect the red carpet to be rolled out by him and Vikram when they pass through New York, he believes SWFs want to remain 'outsiders'. People's values, he admits, have changed since he first entered Chase Manhattan as a trainee in New York 47 years ago.

And whilst there's some truth in the assertion made by 'Liar's Poker' author Michael Lewis that leaders in banking can never know the real-time risks that their employees are taking, Sir Win believes in the strength of Citi's management team and Pandit's knowledge of credit in particular. Even if he hints that the flip side of that is that more people are culpable for what happened in 2007 than fall guy Chuck Prince.

He laments the fact that regulators seem set on a course to tighten the rules under which Wall Street operates; Sir Win says they should remember that the ability of banks to move fast has lifted growth around the world over the past two decades. Bad investment decisions made by Citi and other banks may ultimately have proved a 'catalyst' for recession - but the man once called the 'bankers' banker' is adamant that they are not the cause.

Sir Win Bischoff's interview for 'The Leaders' will first air in Europe at 22:30 CEO on Thursday 29th May.