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Pro Analysis

Breakingviews: Citi passed its stress test and raised dividends. Now what?

Michael Corbat, chief executive officer of Citigroup Inc.
Drew Angerer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Michael Corbat, chief executive officer of Citigroup Inc.

Now that Citigroup has aced the Federal Reserve's latest stress test, it needs a strategy. The $188 billion U.S. bank doubled its dividend and boosted its share buyback by $15.6 billion after clearing the exam. Chief Executive Mike Corbat has been understandably laser-focused on returning capital and appeasing watchdogs, objectives that eluded his predecessor and lifted him into the job. Spurring growth to match bigger investor payouts is a trickier challenge.

Corbat was brought in as Citi's chief in 2012, after the bank failed the test for the first time under Vikram Pandit. The bank failed again in 2014, leaving Corbat stunned. With his job at stake, Corbat persuaded an executive to delay retirement and take over the examination process. The bank spent $180 million to improve its systems and streamlined operations.