As expected, troubled banking giant Citigroup named former
Time Warner Inc. chairman and CEO Richard Parsons as its new chairman,
effective Feb. 23.
Parsons, who had been Citigroup's lead director and chair of
its board of directors' nomination and governance committee, retired from Time
Warner Inc. in December. The former Time Warner chairman has a long history in
the banking industry-he was chairman and CEO of Dime Bancorp before joining
Time Warner in 1995.
It was that banking experience and his political savvy-Parsons
is a former aide to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and President Gerald Ford
and serves on President Barack Obama's economic advisory panel-that led many to
speculate that the former Time Warner executive was a top candidate for the
The appointment also appears to take Parsons out of the
running for another administration job-he was said to be a top candidate for
Secretary of Commerce in the Obama cabinet.
At Citigroup, Parsons succeeds Sir Win Bischoff, who said he
will not stand for re-election at the bank's next annual meeting and will
retire from Citi later this year.
Citigroup has come under fire in the wake of the banking
crisis of the past few months. The company has suffered losses for five
straight quarters and has received $45 billion as part of the government's
bailout of the banking industry. Last week Citi said it would separate into two
separate companies in an effort to stem those losses and return to
Parsons, known for his diplomatic expertise, is no stranger
to financial crises. When he became CEO of Time Warner in 2002 it was saddled
with heavy debt from its disastrous merger with AOL and appeared to be on the
road to ruin.
Parsons weathered that storm, reduced debt substantially and
shored up the media giant's balance sheet before handing the CEO reins to
Jeffrey Bewkes in 2008. Parsons stayed on as chairman until Jan.1,
2009, when Bewkes also assumed that role.
Parsons thanked Bischoff for his years of service and for
his leadership of the Citigroup board.
"One of my top priorities will be to ensure the Board
remains committed to strong, independent corporate governance-especially in
today's challenging economic conditions," Parsons said in a statement. "I also
will work to reconstitute the Board as directors retire with new members who
bring strong, proven business judgment and financial and banking sector
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