Vikram Pandit, a low-paid CEO among Wall Street peers

Vikram Pandit, a low-paid CEO among Wall Street peers

Vikram Pandit, a low-paid CEO among Wall Street peers

Vikram S Pandit worked as Citigroup’s chief executive for just under five years. But during that time, he earned a good deal less than what other Wall Street chieftains made. There are a number of ways to look at Pandit’s compensation from 2007 through 2011, according to an analysis that the research firm Equilar performed for DealBook.

The most generous view is by looking at Pandit’s total direct compensation, which includes salary, bonus payouts, other benefits and the grant date value of equity awards. That comes out to $56.4 million. However, that includes the value of equity awards that did not vest.

Then there’s his total take-home pay, which includes salary, bonuses, benefits and the value of exercised stock options and vested stock. That amounts to $13.5 million. If one accounts for the current stock price for shares that vested during Pandit’s tenure, instead of the original price on the days the stock was granted, that would come out to $11.9 million.

That’s fairly low, compared with some of Pandit’s Wall Street peers. Jamie Dimon ofJPMorgan Chase, for instance, received $23 million last year through a combination of salary and cash and stock incentives, according to the firm’s most recent proxy statement.

Some of that stems from Pandit’s $1 base salary in 2009 and 2010, when he pledged to earn that token amount until he brought the firm back to profitability. (He still received stock-based payouts that brought his total take-home pay to $1.3 million in each of those years, according to Equilar.)

In any case, according to Equilar, Pandit hasn’t sold any shares during his time at Citi, at least through 2011.

Still, Citi’s shareholders have not been that impressed. When Citi’s board let shareholders provide their input on giving Pandit a $15 million payout this spring, they voted resoundingly against the proposed package. It was the first stinging rebuke against a major Wall Street chief’s compensation.

Pandit’s biggest payout from Citi was the $165 million that he received when the bank bought Old Lane Partners, the hedge fund he co-founded after leaving Morgan Stanley. Meanwhile, it appears as if the now-former chief executive will not receive a golden parachute. Pandit did not have an employment agreement that guarantees such a payout in case of termination, according to an analysis by Disclosure Matters.

Other, more limited agreements also lack the kinds of provisions that are often used to guarantee payouts for exiting executives. A “key employee” profit-sharing agreement with Pandit filed in May 2011 says he generally “shall not be entitled to any payments pursuant to the plan” if his employment terminates before May 2013, except in the case of death or disability. Similarly, option and stock grants made last year suggested that Pandit would forfeit most of those awards on departure.

As Michael L Corbat takes up the reins at Citigroup, analysts and investors have a message for him: Shrink your bank fast, and be a lot more transparent as you do so.
Corbat takes over from Vikram S Pandit as chief executive of Citigroup four difficult years after the financial crisis. In that period, Pandit steadied the banking behemoth and tried to focus Citi on the businesses he felt it could do best in. But, increasingly, many investors felt Citi’s overhaul wasn’t bold or quick enough.

Dissatisfaction with Citigroup’s progress motivated shareholders to vote against a $15 million pay package for Pandit in April. That vote came soon after the Federal Reserve turned down Citigroup’s plans to pay out capital to shareholders, a stinging indication that regulators still weren’t comfortable with the bank.

Since those expressions of discontent, Citigroup’s shares are sharply higher, though they are still down 89 per cent since Pandit took over in December 2007. The stock trades at a pitiful valuation, reflecting two dominant views in the markets: Citigroup’s transformation has a long way to go, and its financial statements can be opaque.

Lagging its Peers, Citigroup’s stock price has not been recovering as fast as the banking
sector as a whole.

Though relatively unknown to shareholders, Corbat starts with a reputation as an assiduous executive with a deep knowledge of Citigroup, where he has worked for nearly 30 years. He even got good reviews from people who have been skeptical about Citigroup and its management.

Some analysts believe Corbat could open the door to more radical moves at Citigroup.

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