Vikram Pandit abruptly stepped down as CEO of Citigroup on Tuesday, surprising Wall Street, after steering the bank through the 2008 financial crisis and the choppy years that followed. Mr Pandit will also relinquish his seat on Citi's board of directors.
The news shocked Wall Street, a day after the bank reported strong third-quarter earnings. Mr Pandit is credited with slimming the bank by selling businesses, removing it from government ownership after a bailout in 2008 and righting its balance sheet after billions in losses on bad mortgage investments made before he took the helm.
Today, Citi is the country's third-largest bank, with $1.9 trillion in assets, according to the Federal Reserve. It trails only JPMorgan Chase, with $2.3 trillion, and Bank of America, with $2.1 trillion.
But Mr Pandit's massive pay packages have raised the ire of investors. Fifty-five percent of the shareholders objected to deals including the $15 million that Pandit received last year, in addition to $10 million in retention pay. He had accepted a token $1 in compensation in 2010.
Mr Pandit joined Citigroup in 2007, when the hedge fund he founded, was acquired by the bank. He quickly rose to CEO in December 2007. Earlier, he had ascended to head of investment banking at Morgan Stanley before leaving in 2005 to form the hedge fund. A naturalized citizen, Pandit lives in New York with his wife and two children.
A native of India, Mr Pandit attended Columbia University at 16 and completed a bachelor's degree in three years. He earned a doctorate in finance in 1986.
He faced harsh criticism after Citigroup took $45 billion in government bailout money in the 2008 credit crisis. In December 2011 Pandit announced the company would eliminate 4,500 jobs to cut costs. The cuts represented about 1.5 percent of its global workforce of 267,000. When he was first hired in 2007, the company had 375,000 employees.
Mr Pandit said in a statement on Tuesday that "now is the right time for someone else to take the helm at Citigroup" after the bank "emerged from the financial crisis as a strong institution."
Mr Pandit's replacement, effective immediately, is Michael Corbat, the current CEO of Citigroup's Europe, Middle East and Africa division, the bank said.