Citi's Top Ranks Drew Hefty Payouts

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Citigroup's board is sparing no expense to keep senior management happy.

Profit shriveled 83 percent last year, the bank slashed jobs by the thousands, and substituted stock for a portion of managing directors' cash bonuses.

In January, however, the bank awarded a total of nearly $38 million in so-called retention grants of stock and deferred cash to three senior executives, according to Friday's New York Times. In addition, new CEO Vikram Pandit received a "sign-on grant" of stock and options worth over $48 million. And three other executives received cash bonuses totaling $18.9 million.

Even dismissed former CEO Charles Prince got a $10.4 million bonus when he left last November.

Citi's generous payouts to its leaders contrasts with Morgan Stanley and a few other big banks whose top executives didn't take any bonus in the wake of poor results in 2007.

The retention grants, in particular, were criticized by compensation consultant David M. Schmidt, of James F. Reda & Associates. In a conspicuous understatement, Schmidt told the Times, "It's not clear that these (awards) were necessary to keep" the executives in place.

Michael S. Klein, Citi investment bank co-head, got deferred cash and equity worth $19.3 million, according to an analysis by Equilar, an executive compensation research firm. Vice Chairman Stephen R. Volk got a $10.3 million award. And Vice Chairman Lewis B. Kaden - formerly responsible for overseeing the bank's chief risk officer - got $8.3 million.

Multimillion dollar cash payouts went to three other executives - Chief Financial Officer Gary L. Crittenden, global wealth management head Sallie L. Krawcheck, and Winfried Bischoff, who was named chairman in December. Crittenden received a $14 million cash bonus, Krawcheck got $2.9 million and Bischoff got $2 million.

In contrast, Robert E. Rubin, a top advisor to Citi's senior management who was one of the bank's highest-paid executives for several previous years, asked the compensation committee not to give him a retention award.

As for Pandit, the Times reckons that his total price tag came to $216 million, after adding in both the $48 million signing bonus and his $165.2 million share of what Citi paid to acquire Old Lane Partners, the hedge fund he started in 2006.

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