WASHINGTON – With Citigroup stock value plunging, top executives at the financial giant are considering the sale of all or parts of the company, the Wall Street Journal reported on its website.
The debate within the company is at a "preliminary stage," and officials said the company has "ample capital, funding and strategic direction," the daily said.
The sale option is one of a range of dire scenarios company executives were considering after Citigroup stock fell another 26 percent Thursday, after a 23 percent drop on Wednesday.
The company's board of directors is expected to meet Friday to discuss options to reverse the stock slide, people familiar with the situation told the daily.
Citigroup, a component of the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average, has tumbled more than 70 percent since the start of the year, with the bank hit by hefty writeoffs linked to the US real estate crisis.
Chief Executive Vikram Pandit and other company executives have told colleagues they are frustrated and confused by this week's 50 percent stock decline, the daily said.
Citigroup stocks on Thursday closed at 4.71 dollars, their lowest level in 15 years, despite Wednesday's announcement by Saudi Arabian investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud that he would increase his holdings in Citigroup Inc. to 5.0 percent, adding that he supports the banking giant's management.
At 25.6 billion dollars, Citigroup's value on the stock market is barely higher than the 25 billion dollar aid package the US Treasury extended it last month, in the framework of its 700 billion dollar bailout plan for stricken financial institutions.
Besides considering selling the company to another bank, Citigroup executives are also looking into selling parts of the company, including the Smith Barney retail brockerage, the global credit-card division and transaction-services unit, Citigroup's most lucrative and fast-growing businesses, the newspaper said.
They are also exploring the possibility of merging with a rival. Some analysts have pointed to Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as potential suitors, market analysts told the daily.
Citigroup also want to make it more difficult for investors to place bets that the company's share price will fall, a strategy known as "short selling," and have been lobbying the Securities and Exchange Commission to reinstate a ban on the trading strategy imposed at the start of the stock market crash.
Citigroup on Monday announced it was slashing a near-record 50,000 jobs worldwide in further belt tightening to cope with the global financial crisis and heavy losses. At its peak last year, the company employed 375,000 people.
It was the second largest job-cut announcement on record, according to global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, tying with 50,000 job cuts by retailer Sears, Roebuck & Co. in 1993 behind the all-time largest the same year: 60,000 by IBM.
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