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‘Pandit was asked to quit’

New York: Tension was brewing for some months between Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit and Michael E. O’Neill, who became Chairman early this year, after a series of public missteps with regulators and shareholders and concern that Pandit was not moving fast enough to cut costs, and O’Neill paved the way this week for the board to ask for Pandit’s resignation after five years at the helm.

Pandit was replaced Tuesday with a longtime Citi executive, Michael L. Corbat.

O’Neill, who has a hands-on approach, said on Wednesday that the progress the bank made in recovering from the financial crisis under Mr. Pandit “has been enormous. Five years ago this company was in dire straits and I don’t want to minimize Vikram’s legacy because it is something he can be proud of.”

“But there is a British saying about horses for courses,” O’Neill added as quoted by New York Times, “and Mike Corbat has a sort of single-minded data approach that is right for the job today.”

The Nagpur-born Pandit, who was named the CEO of Citigroup in December 2007, worked for two years for a symbolic salary of $1 a year as he nursed the ailing bank to recovery. In January 2011, Pandit’s annual base was raised to $1.75 million for the progress Citi made under his leadership. After posting five consecutive quarterly profits, Citigroup in May 2011 announced $23.2 million retention award to Pandit making him one of the highest paid CEOs. However, in April 2012, shareholders voted against increasing his pay to $15 million.