US regulators push for change at top of Citi

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Vikram Pandit, the chief executive of Citigroup, faces growing questions over his future in the job, as US regulators put pressure on the government-supported banking giant to speed up its financial restructuring.

Signs that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, one of the country's chief banking regulators, is moving to take additional oversight of Citi come amid increasing political intervention in the running of firms which took taxpayer money to see them through the financial crisis.

Mr Pandit has been chief executive of Citi since December 2007, when mounting losses on credit derivatives forced the resignation of Chuck Prince. The FDIC has been concerned that Mr Pandit's lack of commercial banking experience is hindering Citi's return to health. Mr Pandit ran his own hedge fund before joining Citi, and had previously spent his career in investment banking.

Yesterday, it was reported that the FDIC is pressing a fellow regulator to lower its confidential ranking of Citi's financial health, which would enable federal authorities to take a more active role in setting the company's strategy. The FDIC is believed to want a management shake-up. Jerry Grundhofer, the former US Bancorp chief executive who recently joined Citi's board, is seen as a potential successor to Mr Pandit with more commercial banking experience.

Citi had to be rescued last year, and has taken $45bn (£28bn) in taxpayer money. The government is also guaranteeing losses on $300bn of its toxic assets, and will hold more than a third of the company after an imminent financial restructuring.

Next week, President Barack Obama is expected to announce the appointment of a "pay czar" to monitor compensation at firms, including Citi, that have taken bailout money. The job is expected to go Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney who oversaw compensation for victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The White House and then Congress both set conditions on how much bailed-out firms can pay senior employees, and in what form. The rules are ambiguous and occasionally contradictory and Mr Feinberg is expected to have wide latitude to interpret them.

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