Citicorp, the largest banking organization in the United States, is caught in dire financial straits. Once ranked as one of the top five largest banks in the world, it's now not even in the top 25. Awash with mounting losses on its real estate loans, it is looking at sharply reduced profits and a severe loss of both power and prestige. What's behind this turmoil? In this book, Richard Miller investigates a world-class banking company in deep trouble. Combining research and interviews of key Citicorp officials and associates of the organization, Miller traces the story of the firm's relentless growth from its beginnings in 1812 to the present under the high-tech - and increasingly suspect - stewardship of John Reed. The author details the managerial squabbles at the top, the failures to meet regulatory challenges and the sometimes shabby decision-making that has forced the corporate giant to write-off billions in bad loans. "The late, great Citicorp" also profiles what may be ahead for the banking company as it teeters at the financial brink, and as hungry competitors continue to gain strength. This book explains why bankers and regulators everywhere are holding their collective breath as this once mighty financial giant strives to survive.
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An amateurish and slipshod audit of Citicorp, the troubled holding company for America's largest commercial bank. In a once-over-lightly narrative that's longer on allegations than analysis, Miller (a financial journalist) goes out of his way to accentuate the negative. Of late, Manhattan-based Citi certainly has had its problems, including troubles with regulatory agencies (on the score of capital adequacy), defaulting borrowers, common stockholders (who have endured equity dilution, plus suspension of their dividends), and rival depository institutions offering stiff competition. Unfortunately, Miller (who seems to have relied almost exclusively on brokerage-house, corporate, and news reports) simply catalogues the varied difficulties experienced by Citicorp since John Reed replaced the storied Walter Wriston as CEO in 1984. And though he provides a haphazard rundown on Citi's origins (in 1812) and past achievements, the author fails to provide any substantive perspectives on banking-industry trends, the global economic environment, management policies, or allied factors that could shed light on Citi's plight. Miller also reaches a number of inconclusive conclusions. Commenting on the possibility that the famously aggressive Citibank may take a kinder, gentler approach to customer relations, he observes: ``We'll just have to wait and see.'' In like vein, while discussing Reed's reputed abrasiveness, Miller speculates that ``perhaps like all of us, he has his good days and his bad days.'' Moreover, the very premise here may well have been overtaken by events: Citi's income statement for 1992 (after allowance for loan write-offs and provision for bad debts) improved enough for S&P (a notably unsentimental watchdog) to upgrade its credit rating. The bottom line: not a solid reader-investment. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
In many ways , the story of Citicorp is the story of the American dream come full circle. This book is about the largest bank in this country, with "a network of 3300 branches, offices, subsidiaries, and affiliates spanning six continents and located in 92 countries." From its beginnings in 1812 to the present, Citicorp's story is one of meteoric success as well as dreadful mismanagement. Along the way, veteran financial journalist Miller does credit Citicorp for banking innovations like developing the negotiable certificate of deposit (CD), using credit cards, and implementing the technology for the automated teller machine (ATM). Unfortunately, for every plus there is a minus; the author finds fault with how Citicorp has handled loans to lesser developed countries, thrown money at risky real estate ventures, and funded mergers and acquisitions that soured. A fascinating and sobering tale; recommended for all business collections.
- Richard Drezen, Merrill Lynch Lib., New York City
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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