Prince Alwaleed bin Talal – Saudi billionaire and the largest individual shareholder in Citigroup (NYSE:C) – had only positive things to say Monday about the bank’s outgoing chief executive Vikram Pandit, who led the bank through the United States’ financial crisis.
Alwaleed defended Pandit and the decisions he made while at the helm of Citigroup, the third-largest bank in the U.S., suggesting that the former CEO does not deserve much of the blame he received leading up to his departure earlier this month.
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“Many companies like HSBC (NYSE:HBC), Barclays (NYSE:BCS), and Standard Chartered (LON:STAN) shrank and went back to their roots,” Alwaleed said Monday at a conference in Dubai. “Citigroup never blinked on that. It’s the only global bank at the moment and really the potential is there.” Alwaleed added that he believes Pandit did a “good job” and that his perceived weaknesses as CEO stem from how he handled regulators.
During his reign at Citigroup, which began in December 2007, Pandit saw the bank through its darkest of hours, at one point even slashing his own salary to $1 to demonstrate his dedication to returning the bank back to profitability. Michael Corbat, 52, was chosen to assume the role chief executive at Citigroup, which according to Alwaleed, is now positioned for future growth thanks to Pandit.
Bloomberg estimates Alwaleed’s net worth to be around $23.1 billion, making him the 18th richest person on Earth. He is known for his extravagant personal assets like palaces, private jets, and yachts, as well as for his recent philanthropic pursuits, including a $20 million gift to Harvard University and a $17 million donation to the United Nations.