Cutting back at Citigroup…

February 25, 2008

images-31.jpegApparently, Countrywide Financial (CFC) isn’t the only lender cutting back on some perks that might not be viewed in the best light, given the current subprime mess. Citigroup (C), which has also been caught like a deer-in-subprime headlights, is also paring back, judging by this exhibit attached to the 10-K the banking giant filed late Friday.

Comparing the current time-sharing agreement, which covers both Chairman Winifred Bischoff and CEO Vikram Pandit to this one filed for Robert Rubin back in August 2006, shows that Citigroup has gotten rid of its Falcon 2000 sometime over the past year, since that plane is missing from the list. (For context, the Falcon 2000 is the same plane that Qwest (Q) is allowing the step-daughter of CEO Ed Mueller to use while she completes the school year in California). Almost as interesting is that Citigroup has chosen to delete the tail numbers and serial numbers from the current filing, even though they’re available in the older filing. Perhaps they don’t want people gossiping on Flight Aware’s discussion boards about where their planes are going.

Among the other interesting things in Citi’s 10-K was this new warning on the U.S economy:

There is a risk of a U.S. and/or global downturn in 2008. A U.S-led economic downturn could negatively impact other markets and economies around the world and could restrict the Company’s growth opportunities internationally. Should economic conditions further deteriorate, the Company could see revenue reductions across its businesses and increased costs of credit. In addition, continuing deterioration of the U.S. or global real estate markets could adversely impact the Company’s revenues, including additional write-downs of subprime and other exposures, additional write-downs of leveraged loan commitments and cost of credit, including increased credit losses in mortgage-related and other activities.

Indeed, a sizable chunk of the 200-plus page filing is devoted to the subprime mess, which is a substantial change from last year’s K when the word subprime was never mentioned a single time. It was only in the 10-Q filed in August that Citigroup first mentioned its subprime woes, which given the size of them — $19.6 billion so far and more likely to come judging from the K — seems almost hard to swallow. As the K notes, the company still has $37.3 billion in “U.S. subprime net direct exposure” as of Dec. 31.

One hopes that when Angelo Mozillo of Countrywide and former Citi CEO Chuck Prince appear before Congress on Thursday, the lack of vision-thing is one of the questions asked. Then again, both companies can point to the fact that they’ve cut back at least some of their high-profile perks.

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