花旗面临瘦身压力
大耳朵英语  http://www.bigear.cn  2008-11-26 09:42:54  【打印
Citi Faces Pressure To Slim Down

The government rescue of Citigroup Inc. reversed the perilous slide of the company's stock, but pressure is mounting on its executives and directors to do even more to stabilize the financial giant.

Citigroup's shares jumped 58% after federal officials announced an agreement late Sunday night to pour $20 billion of capital into Citigroup and absorb as much as $249 billion in potential losses on real-estate loans and securities held by the bank.

Citigroup executives acknowledged Monday that the government made it clear in weekend negotiations that it expects the company to continue to reduce its appetite for risk, and to seriously weigh more drastic actions, including possibly breaking up the company.

Gary Crittenden, chief financial officer, said in an interview that Citigroup has no 'preconceptions' about its vast array of businesses. 'The constituent parts could change,' he said. 'We're looking all the time to see if there are different possible combinations, either buy or sell, that make sense for the organization.'

Mr. Crittenden declined to comment on the scenarios being examined. Executives and directors have discussed potential mergers with other financial institutions or selling major business lines, people familiar with the situation said.

'This is a reprieve, but it's not a complete pardon,' said another person familiar with the matter, referring to the government rescue plan. 'Nobody's confused about that.'

The government did not push for the ouster of Citigroup's chief executive, Vikram Pandit, as part of the agreement, as it did with the CEO of American International Group Inc. when it bailed out that company. Still, as federal officials debated the structure of the plan, there was some disagreement on whether Mr. Pandit was at fault for the company's problems, according to people familiar with the situation. One name that Wall Street executives have mentioned as a possible replacement is American Express Co. Chief Executive Kenneth Chenault.

Spokespeople for Citigroup and American Express declined to comment.

News of the rescue pushed stocks sharply higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbing 396.97 points, or 4.9%, to 8443.39. That close was the highest since Nov. 14. Still, the Dow is down 40% from its all-time high in October 2007.

People involved in the frenzied bailout negotiations said in interviews that Citigroup executives realized by the middle of last week that the plunge in the company's shares -- they fell 60% last week -- posed a major threat to the company's viability.

Mr. Pandit now finds himself under intense pressure to take major steps to stabilize the company. He faces a board of directors, clients and shareholders who remain nervous about Citigroup's stability, and government regulators who seem prepared to keep the company on a tight leash.

Since becoming CEO last December, Mr. Pandit has embraced Citigroup's existing structure, resisting calls to dismantle the sprawling global enterprise. Mr. Crittenden said on Monday that the company's 'fundamental strategy basically stays the same, but we're open-minded.'

The company faces swelling losses on loans that aren't covered under the government's loss-sharing agreement, which amounts to insurance on a $306 billion pool of assets. Under the plan, Citigroup will shoulder the first $29 billion in losses on that pool. After that, three government agencies will absorb 90% of any remaining losses, which amounts to $249 billion.

The arrangement covers Citigroup's portfolios of U.S. residential and commercial mortgages and its leveraged corporate loans, among other assets. The assets aren't just risky ones; the government insisted that the agreement cover entire asset classes, so that Citigroup couldn't simply dump toxic loans and securities in the lap of taxpayers.

Absent from the arrangement are Citigroup's giant credit-card business, where defaults have been rapidly piling up, and its overseas lending operations, which also are showing signs of stress.

While the government deal bolsters Citigroup's capital ratios, 'we are concerned that losses may eventually exceed the government's backstop,' said Standard & Poor's equity analyst Stuart Plesser.

In exchange for covering hundreds of billions of dollars in potential losses, Citigroup is issuing the government a total of $27 billion in preferred shares, in which the government will receive regular dividends. The government now holds a 7.8% stake in Citigroup, which entitles it to $3.4 billion a year in dividends.

Last Wednesday, Citigroup executives began discussing the idea of seeking a show of support from the government if the stock price kept declining. By the end of the week, a small number of clients, including wealthy customers of Citigroup's private bank, had started defecting. Executives and government officials worried about a potential exodus.

Confidence 'began to shake,' said a person with direct knowledge of the situation. 'It was a complete death spiral and we had to stop it.'

Bank officials contemplated what they might do to pave the way for federal assistance, such as agreeing to steps to avoid foreclosing on delinquent mortgage customers.

On Friday, Citigroup Vice Chairman Lewis Kaden and investment banker Edward Kelly spoke by phone with New York Fed President Timothy Geithner to discuss the worsening situation. Mr. Geithner, President-elect Obama's nominee for Treasury secretary, encouraged the Citigroup executives to come up with ideas for how the government could help stabilize the company.

Inside the government it was far from clear that action was needed. Citigroup's stock price was tumbling, but there was no sense the company was in danger of failing. But over the weekend, as they pored through Citigroup's books, it became clear to top officials that the company needed government help.

Citigroup pushed for a deal similar to its unsuccessful agreement to buy Wachovia Corp. with financial backing from the U.S. government. In that deal, which unraveled when Wells Fargo & Co. emerged with a higher bid, the government had agreed to protect Citigroup from losses above a certain level on more than $300 billion worth of assets.

On Saturday morning, Citigroup executives sent a blueprint based on the Wachovia structure to government officials.

Policymakers balked, thinking the plan too beneficial to Citigroup. If the U.S. were to take another equity stake, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson wanted it to be small, since otherwise the government would end up owning Citigroup. The officials worried that appearing to nationalize the company would further roil markets. They agreed that $20 billion was the limit for what they would invest.

The policymakers also discussed whether Mr. Pandit should remain CEO, say people familiar with the talks, and agreed that removing him would send a bad signal to the markets and potentially destabilize the company.

Later that night, the government informed Citigroup that it was comfortable with a limited cash infusion and a loss-sharing agreement modeled on the Wachovia deal.

Not everyone was satisfied. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair harbored reservations about a bailout because it exposure her agency to big losses. She wanted government officials to consider an arrangement that would be more punitive to Citigroup shareholders. An FDIC spokesman said 'limiting the potential exposure of the deposit-insurance fund is always a high priority for Chairman Bair.'

On Sunday morning, the disagreement ignited a heated debate between Ms. Bair and her counterparts at other agencies, say people familiar with the discussions.

As the day dragged on, Citigroup executives grew frustrated that they were being kept in the dark by the government.

Around 6 p.m. on Sunday, Mr. Paulson called Ms. Bair to talk to her privately. He told her helping Citigroup was important and that if she couldn't play a meaningful role, the Fed and Treasury could do it without her.

Ms. Bair agreed to be involved but would only accept the FDIC taking $10 billion of the losses, with the Fed guaranteeing most of the rest.

Two hours later, enough of the details were worked out that Mr. Pandit briefed Citigroup's board on the plans. The directors approved it with little debate shortly before 9 p.m. Around 11 p.m., Mr. Pandit signed the agreement.

David Enrich / Deborah Solomon

美国政府向花旗集团(Citigroup Inc.)伸出援手后,该公司一度重挫的股价应声反弹。尽管如此,要求其管理层和董事会采取更多行动稳定公司状况的压力正变得越来越大。

美国政府周日晚间宣布一份协议,向花旗注资200亿美元,并为该公司所持房地产贷款和证券高达2,490亿美元的潜在损失提供担保。花旗股价应声暴涨58%。

花旗的高管在周一承认,在周末的谈判中,政府方面明确表示,希望花旗能继续减少其风险偏好,并认真考虑采取诸如分拆公司之类的大动作。



Vikram Pandit花旗首席财务长加里•克里坦登(Gary Crittenden)在接受采访时表示,公司尚未形成调整其庞大业务种类的“设想”。他表示,构成部分会有变化。公司无时不刻都在寻找是否有不同、对组织有意义的可行合并方案,无论是收购还是出售业务。

克里坦登拒绝对正在评估的情况发表评论。知情人士说,公司管理人士和董事们讨论了与其他金融机构合并或出售主要业务的可能。

另一位知情人士针对政府的救助计划称,这只是一种缓刑,并不是彻底的救赎。大家都明白这一点。

政府在协议里并未要求花旗首席执行长潘伟迪(Vikram Pandit)下台,这一点与政府在救助美国国际集团(American International Group)时对其首席执行长提出的要求不同。不过,据知情人士说,在联邦官员讨论计划的结构安排时,对于潘伟迪在花旗的问题上是否有过错存在不同意见。华尔街人士提到的一个可能接替潘伟迪的人选是美国运通(American Express Co.)首席执行长肯尼斯•钱纳特(Kenneth Chenault)。

花旗和美国运通发言人均拒绝就此置评。

有关花旗救助计划的消息推动美国股市大幅上涨,道琼斯工业股票平均价格指数上涨4.9%至8443.39点,是11月14日以来的高点,但较2007年10月创下的历史高点仍有40%的跌幅。

参与有关救助计划激烈谈判的人士在接受采访时说,花旗人士到上周三前后开始意识到,公司股价大幅跳水对其生存构成了严重威胁。仅上周花旗股价就下跌了六成。

潘伟迪现在感到了巨大压力:他必须采取重大步骤稳定公司的现状。他面对着对公司前途仍惴惴不安的董事会、客户和股东,还有似乎准备好对其收紧控制的政府监管机构。



Bloomberg News/Landov

行人走过花旗银行纽约某分行门口自从去年12月担任花旗首席执行长以来,潘伟迪一直支持花旗的现有架构,拒绝将其庞大的全球机构分而治之的呼声。克里坦登周一说,公司的根本战略基本上保持不动,但我们的态度是开放的。

花旗手中那些并未涵盖在政府分担协议内的贷款,损失在急剧膨胀。根据协议,政府将为花旗3,060亿美元的资产提供担保。花旗将承担当中最初发生的290亿美元损失,在此之后的损失将由政府承担90%(总计2,490亿美元)。

协议覆盖了花旗在美国的住房和商业贷款及其企业杠杆贷款等项资产。这其中不只是高风险资产;政府坚持让协议覆盖全部资产类别,这样一来,花旗就不能只将不良贷款和证券资产挑出来推给纳税人来承担。

协议中不包括花旗庞大的信用卡业务和海外放贷业务,花旗的信用卡透支拖欠情况正在迅速恶化,海外贷款也有不祥的兆头。

尽管与政府的交易提高了花旗的资本充足率,但标准普尔(Standard & Poor's)股票分析师普雷瑟尔(Stuart Plesser)说,我们担心损失额最终会超过政府救助的范围。

为了换取对数千亿美元潜在损失的保护,花旗向政府发行了总额270亿美元的优先股,政府将从中获得固定股息。目前,美国政府持有花旗集团7.8%的股份,每年将获得34亿美元的股息。

上周三,花旗集团高管开始探讨如果股价继续下跌、从政府寻求各种支持的想法。上周末,少数客户,包括花旗集团私有银行的富有客户已开始逃离。花旗高管和政府官员对可能发生的客户大规模流失感到忧心忡忡。

了解具体情况的一位人士透露,信心开始发生了动摇。这完全是一个死亡陷阱,我们必须加以阻止。

银行管理人员考虑了可以采取哪些步骤为获得联邦资助铺平道路,如同意采取措施避免对拖欠抵押贷款客户实行止赎。

上周五,花旗集团副董事长路易斯•卡登(Lewis Kaden)和投资银行家爱德华•凯利(Edward Kelly)与纽约联邦储备银行行长盖纳(Timothy Geithner)通了电话,讨论了不断恶化的局势。盖纳鼓励花旗管理人员就政府如何能稳定该公司提出建议。当选总统奥巴马已提名盖纳担任下一届政府的财政部长。

在政府内部,对是否需要采取行动还远没有形成明确的看法。花旗股价虽然出现了暴跌,但并未看出公司有倒闭的危险。不过在周末期间,随着他们对花旗财务状况的深入研究,高级官员开始认识到该公司需要政府的帮助。

花旗提出了同收购Wachovia Corp.时政府所提供的金融支持类似的协议。当初的这项协议最终以失败告终,因为后来富国银行(Fargo & Co.)向Wachovia出了更高的收购价。政府在那项协议里同意,如果花旗3,000多亿美元资产所造成的损失超出了一定水平,政府将提供保护。

周六上午,花旗管理人员根据Wachovia协议的结构向政府官员提交了草案。

政策制定者有些犹豫不决,认为该计划对花旗的好处太大。如果政府进一步获得花旗的股份,财政部长鲍尔森(Henry Paulson)希望比例不要太大,否则的话,政府最终将持有花旗集团。政府官员担心,对花旗进行国有化的迹象会进一步动摇市场。他们决定200亿美元是他们投资的上限。

知情人士称,决策者还讨论了潘伟迪是否应继续担任首席执行长,最后认为让他下台会给市场发出不好的信号,可能导致该公司的动荡。

当天晚些时候,政府通知花旗愿意注入有限的现金并效仿Wachovia交易的模式达成损失分担协议。

并非所有人都对此感到满意。FDIC主席贝尔(Sheila Bair)对这项救助计划持保留态度,因为这可能让她所在的机构面临巨大损失。她希望政府官员考虑对花旗股东更具惩罚性的措施。FDIC发言人说,限制存款保险基金的潜在风险始终是贝尔优先考虑的问题。

知情人士称,周日上午,分歧导致贝尔和来自其它机构的人士发生了激烈争论。

随着时间的推移,花旗的高管越来越担心可能被政府拒之门外。

周日下午6时左右,鲍尔森与贝尔进行了私人通话。他告诉她帮助花旗集团的重要性,并说如果她不能发挥实质性的作用,Fed和财政部可以在没有她的情况下采取行动。

贝尔同意参与其中,但只接受FDIC承担100亿美元的损失,Fed则对其余大部分进行担保。

两小时后,足够多的具体计划诞生了,潘伟迪向花旗集团董事会通报了计划。董事们基本没有出现争论,不到晚上9点就批准了协议。晚上11点左右,潘伟迪在协议上签了字。

文章来源:大耳朵英语--免费实用 http://www.bigear.cn