Citi’s Dreadful Succession Planning

Sandy Weill is sniping at Chuck Prince via the FT – again. Why? It makes him look like a petty and bitter old man, rather than any kind of elder statesman of finance.

Interestingly, this time he’s not just blaming Prince, he’s blaming the rest of the Citigroup board as well, including Bob Rubin:

Mr Weill said he and the board should have fostered competition among Citi’s top managers for the chief executive post rather than handing the job to Mr Prince…

The comments by Mr Weill, who remains chairman emeritus and a large shareholder in Citi, raise questions over its succession planning – a key duty of corporate boards. Eight of Citi’s 14 current directors, including former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, chairman of Citi’s executive committee, were on the board at the time of Mr Prince’s appointment.

Clearly the board was under Weill’s heavy thumb at the time, and incapable of organizing themselves on the succession-planning front. But that doesn’t explain how they managed to make exactly the same mistake when Prince resigned: it turned out that there was no succession plan in place then, either.

The board does now have its own chairman, Win Bischoff, who is not also the CEO. That’s good. But I wonder how far he’s come in terms of planning for a successor to Vikram Pandit. After all, if Pandit carries on the way he’s going, there’s a good chance he won’t last long.

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