The Business On... John Havens, Citigroup
Thursday 20 January 2011
We hear congratulations are in order
Yes, Mr Havens has just been promoted to chief operating officer at Citigroup, the banking behemoth that twice needed bailing out by the US taxpayer.
Poisoned chalice, then?
It is certainly true that Citigroup is not the picture of health yet. It has quarantined or sold off most of the toxic assets that got it into trouble, but the investment banking side of its business is losing market share to better-respected rivals.
Why another reorg?
Vikram Pandit, the chief executive, has rearranged the deck chairs every few months, it seems, but there is a good case that this might be the last major one. In fact, this looks like a sigh of relief from Mr Pandit, and a sign that after years of criticism, he is consolidating his power.
Mr Havens, 54, has been Mr Pandit's friend and right-hand man for more than two decades, as they built their careers over at Morgan Stanley. The pair stormed out of Morgan Stanley during its civil war of 2005, when then-chief executive Phil Purcell promoted loyalists over their heads, and they joined a gang of former executives that forced Mr Purcell out a few months later.
What is Mr Haven's background?
He is the very model of the Waspy investment banker, the son of a prominent Philadelphia doctor and Harvard graduate, who began trading convertible debt backin 1979. He is physically imposing, sometimes abrasive, but always respected. In fact, when he quit Morgan Stanley, his equity traders gave him a six-minute standing ovation.
What else do we know about him?
A popular rumour at Morgan Stanley, according to the author of Blue Blood and Mutiny, Patricia Beard, was that Mr Havens's real dream had been to be a white hunter in Africa. Now he's one of the biggest guns on Wall Street instead.
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