Citigroup Inc. ( ) or Citi is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States. Citigroup was formed from one of the world's largest mergers in history by combining the banking giant Citicorp and financial conglomerate Travelers Group on April 7, 1998.
Citigroup Inc. has the world's largest financial services network, spanning 140 countries with approximately 16,000 offices worldwide. The company currently employs approximately 260,000 staff around the world, which is down from 267,150 in 2010 according to Forbes. It also holds over 200 million customer accounts in more than 140 countries. It is a primary dealer in US Treasury securities. According to Forbes, at its height Citigroup used to be the largest company and bank in the world by total assets with 357,000 employees until the global financial crisis of 2008. Today it is ranked 10th in size by composite index. In comparison, JPMorgan Chase now ranks as the largest company and bank in the world as of 2011.
Citigroup suffered huge losses during the global financial crisis of 2008 and was rescued in November 2008 in a massive stimulus package by the U.S. government.
Its largest shareholders include funds from the Middle East and Singapore. According to the NYTimes, on February 23, 2009, Citigroup announced that the United States government would take a 36% equity stake in the company by converting $25 billion in emergency aid into common shares with a US Treasury credit line of $45 billion to prevent the bankruptcy of the largest bank in the world at the time. The government would also guarantee losses on more than $300 billion troubled assets and inject $20 billion immediately into the company. In exchange, the salary of the CEO is $1 per year and the highest salary of employees is restricted to $500,000 in cash and any amount above $500,000 must be paid with restricted stock that cannot be sold until the emergency government aid is repaid in full. The US government also gains control of half the seats in the Board of Directors, and the senior management is subjected to removal by the US government if there is poor performance. By December 2009, the US government stake was reduced to 27% majority stake from a 36% majority stake after Citigroup sold $21 billion of common shares and equity in the largest single share sale in US history, surpassing Bank of America's $19 billion share sale one month prior. Eventually by December 2010, Citigroup repaid the emergency aid in full and the US government received an additional $12 billion profit in selling its shares. US Government restrictions on pay and oversight of the senior management are removed after the US government sold its remaining 27% stake as of December 2010. According to the WSJ, the government aid was provided to prevent a world-wide chaos and panic by the potential collapse of its Global Transactions Services division, which transports more than $3 trillion around the world each day for most of the Fortune 500 companies and over 80 national governments and 60 central banks around the world. According to the article, Mr. Pandit said if Citigroup was allowed to unravel into bankruptcy, "100 governments around the world would be trying to figure out how to pay their employees."
Despite huge losses during the global financial crisis, Citigroup Inc. built up an enormous cash pile in the wake of the financial crisis with $462 billion USD, which is slightly more than Sweden's nominal GDP of $458 billion USD. Citi currently has Tier 1 Common ratio of 11.6% and a Tier 1 Capital ratio of 13.6% as of the end of the second quarter, making it ironically one of the best-capitalized financial institutions in the world after billions of dollars in losses from the financial crisis. This was a result of selling more than $500 billion of its special assets placed in Citi Holdings, which were guaranteed from losses by the US Treasury while under federal majority ownership. Additionally, according to the Washington Post a special IRS tax exception given to Citi to allow the US Treasury to sell its shares at a profit while it still owned Citigroup shares, which eventually net $12 billion dollars. According to Treasury spokeswoman Nayyera Haq, "This (IRS tax) rule was designed to stop corporate raiders from using loss corporations to evade taxes, and was never intended to address the unprecedented situation where the government owned shares in banks. And it was certainly not written to prevent the government from selling its shares for a profit."
Citigroup is one of the Big Four banks in the United States, along with Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.