Citigroup Picks Corbat to Cut Fat

New CEO is expected to pare bank's holdings and overhaul management.

Citigroup Inc. paid a hedge-fund manager with a doctorate in finance more than $200 million over five years to save the bank from the brink of collapse. Now it’s turning to a former Harvard football lineman to run it better.

The board of directors replaced Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit with Michael Corbat, who “will place a special emphasis on sharpening the company’s focus on achieving sustained, strong operating performance,” Chairman Michael O’Neill said on a conference call yesterday.

‘Torch Fat’

He was assigned by Pandit in April 2009 to divest $573 billion of assets as permanent head of the Citi Holdings unit, which held unwanted businesses. They included private-equity stakes, auto loans, a life insurer, a student-loan firm, a fund-of-hedge-funds business as well as mortgages and corporate bonds. In 2010, he pursued an exercise regimen called the Spartacus Workout that, according to MensHealth.com, is designed to “torch fat” and “send your fitness level soaring,” people with knowledge of his routine said.

Spider-Man

Corbat told graduates of the all-boys Salisbury School in Connecticut that “short-term thinking is what led to the downfall of some of this country’s once-great companies,” according to a transcript of his 2010 commencement speech on the school’s website. He was a trustee of the preparatory high school, which his son had attended.

‘Good Guy’

“In the land of Wall Street, where you meet all types, he was just a good guy,” Field said.

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