And Now Here's Vikram Pandit's Side Of The Story About Him Leaving Citi

Vikram Pandit

Photo: oddomar via flickr

Everyone on Wall Street was stunned today at the news that Vikram Pandit was resigning as CEO of Citigroup effective immediately. President and COO John P. Havens also stepped down.

Michael Corbat, a former Harvard football player who previously headed Citi’s Europe, Middle East and Africa business, was named the new CEO.

There are reports that Pandit was forced out. 

People have speculated that the board was growing frustrated after the bank’s failed “stress test,” the shareholder vote rejecting Pandit’s pay package and the recent the multi-billion dollar write-down from the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney deal

Bloomberg TV’s Erik Schatzker had a phone interview with Pandit following the bombshell news to get his side of the story.  Pandit also spoke with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo.  

According to Schatzker, Pandit insists that it was his own decision to step down. Bartiromo said the same thing.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. It was my decision. I made it talking to Mr. O’Neill, and we did it understanding that the company was ready,” Pandit told Schatzker.

The reason he exited so suddenly is that he doesn’t believe in “lame duck sessions,” Pandit told Schatzker.

“This was decided yesterday afternoon. I made the decision. I talked to [Citigroup Chairman] Mr. O’Neill. I don’t believe in having lame-duck sessions, in having the outgoing CEO looking over the shoulder of the incoming CEO,” he told Schatzker. 

Pandit’s “lame duck session” comment makes it appear that he saw the end of his reign as CEO coming.  

As for those reports on whether he was pressured out by the board, Pandit told Bloomberg TV’s Schatzker, “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. It was my decision. I made it talking to Mr. O’Neill, and we did it understanding that the company was ready.” 

However, Pandit does not explicitly deny that he was pressured out by the board.  He simply says that it was his “decision.”   

There is also speculation that Pandit left because of compensation issues.

Back in April at the bank’s annual meeting in Dallas, Citigroup shareholders voted to reject Vikram’s board-approved $14.9 million pay package in 2011.  In 2009 and 2010, he had a $1 salary. 

Pandit told CNBC’s Maria Baritromo that it’s “not about compensation,” she reported.  

What’s more is Pandit told Bloomberg TV that running Citi is not the last thing he will do.  

He had been running Citi since December 2007 and had not had time to think about the future, Pandit told Schatzker. 

Pandit told Bloomberg TV that he’s considering finding a way to contribute to society or the environment.  He added that it’s too early to tell if he’ll do something in the financial services industry next.  

Watch the Bloomberg TV video below: 

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