Was the board about to fire Vikram Pandit or did Vikram Pandit leave of his own accord? Jim Cramer has takes a hard look at the stunning developments at Citigroup .
The beleaguered bank had many critics over the past few years and, admittedly, the Mad Money host was certainly among their ranks.
In fact, Cramer placed former CEO Vikram Pandit on the Mad Money 'Wall of Shame' during Citi's long slide lower with Cramer arguing that Pandit wasn't acting fast enough to fix the balance sheet and develop a strategy to get out from under the thumb of the U.S. government.
However, when the stock traded $2, Cramer spent a lot of time with the Citigroup team and saw the genesis of a turnaround coming together.
"I saw a strategy developing that could bring the bank out of its morass, one that emphasized emerging markets and international growth while simultaneously getting control over the $100s of billions in bad loans that the company had made during the boom of the late 2000s, again not under Pandit's watch."
Cramer added that the environment in which Pandit found himself wasn't easy or friendly.
"Pandit had to report to a host of regulators, especially an extremely hostile FDIC head, Sheila Bair, and he had to deal with a surprising slowdown in the very markets he'd set his sights for, the developing markets. He also had to preside over the undoing of a huge U.S. government stake courtesy TARP, a stake that ultimately made the United States $12 billion on its investment, something that couldn't have occurred if Pandit were a horrendous operator, " Cramer said.
Then, on Monday, it seemed as if Citi's fortunes had finally turned a corner.
Citigroup beat Wall Street expectations with the bank's latest quarterly report showing it earned $1.06 per share, beating the 96 cents predicted by analysts. Citi's revenue, after special charges, was $19.4 billion, well above expectations of $18 billion.