Parsons to Head Citigroup

Former Time Warner head signs on to lead ailing mega-bank

Citigroup Inc. said Wednesday that board member Richard Parsons — the former CEO of Time Warner — will be taking over as chairman.

Parsons succeeds Win Bischoff, who became chairman in December 2007 after the company let go of its embattled CEO and chairman at the time, Charles Prince. The move is effective Feb. 23.

Bischoff is not putting himself up for re-election at the board’s annual meeting this spring, and will retire later this year, Citigroup said.

The ailing bank has suffered five straight quarters of losses and received $45 billion in government aid as it struggles to stay afloat amid the credit crisis. Last week, the company said it would reorganize into two units as it reported a fourth-quarter loss of $8.29 billion.

Citigroup’s board has been the target of much scrutiny among investors for allowing the bank to invest so heavily in the risky housing market.

As that criticism escalated over the past several weeks, so did speculation that Parsons — one of the only directors with experience in both banking and leading a large company — would become chairman.

Before helping negotiate Time Warner’s merger with America Online in 2000 and serving as the new company’s CEO and chairman, Parsons was chief executive and chairman of Dime Bancorp, a thrift bank, in the early 1990s.

Parsons was also an economic adviser on President Barack Obama’s transition team.

Citigroup said separately in a filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission that top three executives — including Bischoff — have passed up bonuses. Bischoff, Chief Executive Vikram Pandit and Chief Financial Officer Gary Crittenden have declined incentive and retention awards that were offered to members of the bank’s executive committee, Citi said.

Long-time board member Robert Rubin, a former U.S. Treasury Secretary, said earlier this month that he, too, would be retiring from Citigroup.

Citigroup shares rose 87 cents, or 31 percent, to $3.67 on Wednesday, before the announcement was made. In after-hours trading, shares were flat. The stock reached a 17-year low on Tuesday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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