Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit attempted to contain anger at the shareholder meeting on Tuesday, by saying he’s optimistic about the company’s prospects, even though plenty of work remains to be done and reiterating his plan to turn Citi around.
“I know that despite all of our progress and our strong first quarter results, we still have some distance to go,” Pandit said.
In spite of better earnings this quarter, some shareholders are still smarting over how much they have lost in the last three years. The price of a Citi share has moved up, but it’s still under $5, specifically $4.97 on Tuesday. Two years ago Citi's share price was at about 25, a $30 plunge from what it was in 2007.
Pandit himself seemingly escaped most of the investor wrath at the meeting, which was being run by him and Citigroup chairman Richard Parsons. One shareholder called for Parsons to step down and others for long-term board members to leave as well.
Another investor, the nation's largest public pension fund, CALPERS, opposes the re-election of two board members, Andrew Liveris, chair and CEO of Dow Chemical , and Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. According to CALPERS's senior portfolio manager Anne Simpson, the fund's opposition is due to what it sees as the two directors' culpability in the financial crisis.
Nonetheless, all the board members were re-elected by a margin of 92 percent or more.
To effect a Citi comeback, Pandit told shareholders that he plans to cut credit costs, control other expenses, leverage the bank’s global footprint and reinvest in the firm's core business. He also reiterated Citi’s commitment to the consumer, which he said is key for any financial institution. Pandit also said those key principles include contributing to the economic recovery, promoting consumer choice, and advocating for changes in the interest of customers.
“Citi is a strong pro-consumer voice,” said Pandit, “maybe more than any other financial institution.”