In response to a Massachusetts regulator's probe into its disclosures concerning the botched Facebook IPO, Citigroup on Friday paid a $2 million fine and dismissed one of its top analysts, Mark Mahaney. Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, also involved in the Facebook debacle, are also under investigation by William Galvin, the top securities regulator for Massachusetts. The dismissal of Mahaney is considered a significant blow to Citi's technology business, and was a response to charges filed by Galvin's office against Citigroup Global Markets concerning the disclosure of key research concerning Facebook.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke sparked a minor stock market selloff at the beginning of Tuesday's session when he referred to the Libor system “structurally flawed.” Libor, which is responsible for setting interest rates on numerous consumer loans was at the center of a rate-fixing scandal that has come to light in recent weeks. British bank Barclays is the first bank penalized in the matter, agreeing to some $450 million in fines last week, but won't be the last as regulators are probing the involvement of several of the world's largest financial firms.
Wall Street banking giant Morgan Stanley on Thursday informed Citigroup that it will indeed exercise an option available to it to increase its stake in Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. The move will eventually increase Morgan Stanley's stake in the Smith Barney unit from 51 percent, where it stands now, to 65 percent. Morgan Stanley values Smith Barney as a whole at between $13 billion and $16 billion, while Citigroup analysts think the brokerage is worth closer to $20 billion. As a result of the disagreement on valuation, a third party will be brought in to determine fair market value for the stake before it changes hands.
Citigroup shareholders on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly against a $15 million raise for the bank's CEO Vikram Pandit for fiscal 2011. It's the first time that shareholders have rejected a corporate compensation package at a bank since Dodd-Frank made such votes mandatory last year. Pandit had made just $1 in 2010. The vote was taken at Citi's annual shareholder meeting, which is being held in Dallas this week.
Several of America's biggest banks are bracing for a potential downgrade after Moody's Investors Service said it would make a decision by mid-May on downgrades for Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup, as well as 14 other global financial companies. Moody's indicated it may reduce the firms' ratings by as much as three notches, which would be catastrophic to their capital reserves.
Citigroup Inc announced on Monday it has agreed to sell its stake in China's Pudong Development Bank to a group of investors to generate some-much-needed cash flow after failing its latest stress test administered by the Federal Reserve. The third-largest US bank by assets, Citi's stake in the Shanghai-based banking firm totals 2.71 percent, and will bring in income of nearly $350 million after taxes.
The final details of the massive $26 billion settlement between regulators and the five biggest US lenders were filed in a federal court on Monday. The agreement consists of five separate consent agreements, one for each of the five lenders, which contain more than 300 pages each. The agreements have been signed off on by each of the lenders, several federal agencies and the attorneys general from every state except Oklahoma. The agreement now awaits judicial approval.
IBM's supercomputer "Watson," which famously beat several of the greatest human champions on Jeopardy last year, has landed a job on Wall Street, and will soon be advising traders on risks, portfolios and clients. Citigroup, the nation's third-largest bank has hired the computer, IBM announced Monday, and the computer will help analyze customer needs and process financial, economic, and client data to advance and personalize digital banking.
Citigroup analyst Keith Horowitz downgraded his rating on Bank of America shares Tuesday, saying that he believes other analysts are being too optimistic in their forecasts for the bank's earnings growth over the next few years. Horowitz changed his rating on the stock from “neutral” to “buy,” while also raising his target price on the stock 50 cents to $8.50. Shares of the bank were down 3.5 percent with about a half-hour left in Tuesday's trading session. Bank officials declined to comment.
Citibank gained approval Monday to begin offering its credit cards to consumers in China, making it the first non-Asian bank to do so. The bank said it will begin issuing cards sometime later this year. "This approval represents a significant milestone in the continued expansion of Citi's business in China, a priority market for Citi," read a statement from Stephen Bird, CEO of the bank's Asian Pacific division.