Citi (C) CEO Vikram Pandit has ordered business unit heads to cut employee compensation costs by 25%, the WSJ says. This could lead to 60,000 firings by next year. The cuts will include the investment banking division. The firm has already fired 23,000 people over the past year, reducing its global workforce to 352,000.
The company vehemently denied the WSJ’s report yesterday that Chairman Win Bisschof may soon be sent packing. The WSJ says it stands by its story.
Vik Pandit bought 750,000 of thee 1.2 million shares Citi brass scooped up yesterday. This sounds bold at first, but it’s still chicken feed (under $10 million), and its value was likely calculated to be higher than that in getting everyone to talk about how Citi management is buying.
Lastly, Citi is jacking up the interest rates on its credit cards, punishing already overwhelmed consumers:
Citigroup is notifying some credit-card customers that their interest rates are being raised by an average of three percentage points.
Citigroup is one of the nation’s largest issuers of credit cards, with 54 million active accounts. The unit had a loss of $902 million in the third quarter, compared with $1.4 billion in profit a year earlier, as a growing number of customers fell behind or defaulted on their payments.
A person familiar with the strategy estimated that the rate increases would apply to less than 20% of Citigroup’s card portfolio.
“The industry has recently experienced an unprecedented market cycle with severe funding dislocation and significant consumer credit deterioration driven by the mortgage crisis and rising unemployment. In light of these unprecedented developments and others, Citi will be repricing a group of customers in our Citi-branded consumer credit-card business in the U.S. to appropriately manage these risks,” said John Carey, chief administrative officer of the credit-card unit.
Citigroup’s move follows a similar change by American Express Co., which is raising rates to some customers by two to three percentage points. Raising rates on customers is a delicate dance for credit-card companies. While the firms want to pull in more revenue from customers who carry a balance from month to month, they don’t want to tip those customers into default because that hurts the card issuer’s bottom line.
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