Three Long-Time Citigroup Executives Are Stepping Down

(Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat is promoting a former deputy to oversee the bank’s relations with Wall Street.

Mark Mason, who worked directly under Corbat to free the firm of troubled businesses and assets in the aftermath of the financial crisis, will succeed Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach when he retires in March, the bank said Tuesday. Gerspach, 65, has held the post for nine years, guiding analysts and investors through the firm’s rehabilitation after its near collapse.

Two other executives, North America head Bill Mills, 62, and Jim Cowles, 63, who runs the bank’s Europe, Middle East and Africa business, are also departing, with plans to leave at year-end, Corbat said in a memo to staff.

Mason, 47, is currently CFO of the institutional clients group, which accounted for more than 50 percent of the bank’s net revenues in the first half of 2018. Gerspach’s nine-year tenure as CFO is notable, since most of his peers stay in that role for a shorter time, said Brian Foran, an analyst at Autonomous Research.

‘Some Comfort’

“There’s some comfort in the fact that he’s been CFO of half the company,” Foran said in a phone interview when asked about Mason. Gerspach’s long tenure was helpful since “Citi’s still one of the most complicated banks out there, just because it’s in so many businesses and geographies.”

The new post thrusts the 17-year Citigroup veteran into the spotlight. In 2011, Mason was named to fill Corbat’s former role overseeing Citi Holdings, a division created to manage and sell billions of dollars in unwanted assets. Since then, Corbat has named him as CEO of the private bank and to his current job.

Gerspach has been CFO since 2009 after previously serving as controller and chief accounting officer. Corbat praised Gerspach’s role in helping the firm make progress toward financial targets and navigate increasing regulations after the financial crisis.

“He has played an unmatched role in crafting and executing a strategy to generate the returns our investors expect and deserve,” Corbat, 58, said in the memo. “He has represented our company exceptionally well, not just in good times but in tough ones as well.”

Succession Changes

Other U.S. banks have been shaking up leadership as some prepare for succession changes. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in July that David Solomon will become CEO in October, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. this year promoted Gordon Smith and Daniel Pinto to co-presidents under CEO Jamie Dimon.

Gerspach, who joined the bank in 1990, was known for being well informed and giving straight answers to questions, according to Jeff Harte, a Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP analyst.

“He sat in the main financial seat for a lot of change, as far as business sales and refocusing and regulatory requirements,” Harte said in an interview. “He did a really good job of overseeing it all.”

Mills, who’s been at the bank and predecessors for 36 years, will transfer his duties to other executives in coming months, Corbat said. Cowles, a 39-year veteran, is leaving to establish a not-for-profit organization once the bank selects a successor.

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