IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Citigroup's consumer chief to leave

Citigroup Inc. on Monday said Marjorie Magner, its consumer banking chief and one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, will leave the world's largest bank to pursue a career change outside financial services.
/ Source: Reuters

Citigroup Inc. on Monday said Marjorie Magner, its consumer banking chief and one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, will leave the world's largest bank to pursue a career change outside financial services.

The 56-year-old Magner has overseen 22 percent annual growth at Citigroup's biggest unit since 2001. The unit, which includes branches, credit cards and consumer finance, generated 55 percent of the bank's first-half profit and 58 percent of revenue.

Magner announced her exit after 19 years at Citigroup, and two months after she was injured after being struck by a taxi. The announcement came one month after Chief Operating Officer Robert Willumstad said he will resign.

The departures force Chief Executive Charles Prince to carry on without two of his top executives, who together have more than a half-century in banking, as he attempts to return Citigroup to double-digit earnings growth and improve company ethics after a series of high-profile scandals.

"Chuck and I have talked quite a bit about the business, and life and issues over the last couple of months," Magner said in an interview. "The accident did give me time away from the daily rigors ... to think a little bit more broadly about life and what I wanted to do." She may pursue a position in academics or work in philanthropy.

Magner will be replaced at the consumer bank by Ajay Banga and Steven Freiberg. Banga, 45, now president of North American retail banking, will lead international operations. Freiberg, 48, who oversees the company's North American credit card unit, will be in charge of the North American consumer business.

"Prince is trying to put his stamp on the company," said Marshall Front, who oversees $1.3 billion at Front Barnett Associates LLC in Chicago, including Citigroup shares.

"This company is very deep in skilled management, so my guess is that this will have little enduring impact," Front continued. "But so far, this stock market hasn't been applauding (Prince), and if that's a measure of how he's performed to date, he gets a mixed review."

Citigroup shares have fallen 3 percent since Prince became chief executive in October 2003, while the Philadelphia KBW Bank Index has risen 14 percent.

But Prince, also speaking in an interview, said Citigroup has a deep bench of management talent, noting that Banga and Freiberg each have more than 25 years of finance experience. He also said Citigroup's upper management upheaval is pretty much over.

"I look forward to a very long run with this group," Prince said. "I have learned never to be surprised in life, but I think the management team is pretty settled down now."

Sanford "Sandy" Weill, who preceded Prince as chief executive, is expected to step down as chairman in April 2006.

Magner regularly ranks at or near the top of lists of the most influential women in banking. Last year, she ranked No. 5 in Fortune magazine's list of the most powerful women in business. She has not set her post-Citigroup plans.

"I honestly don't know exactly what I'll be doing," she said. "That's the great part of the adventure."

Banga and Freiberg will report to Prince. Citigroup also named Kevin Kessinger, 52, head of operations and technology, to replace Deborah Hopkins, who will remain with the bank in a senior role. Kessinger has been president of North American consumer finance.

Citigroup also formed a new operating committee and expanded its business heads committee.