Citi promotes Bird

Bird flies to the top of Citi in Asia

Stephen Bird becomes sole CEO of Citi Asia-Pacific.
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Stephen Bird: Citi's new sole CEO (AFP)
<div style="text-align: left;"> Stephen Bird: Citi's new sole CEO (AFP) </div>

Citi has promoted Stephen Bird to sole CEO of Asia-Pacific while Shirish Apte, his former co-head, has become chairman.

“It’s a big move for Stephen and a sign he is a front runner for global CEO whenever Vikram [Pandit] decides it’s time to retire after navigating Citi from bailout to being back on track making money,” said a Citi insider. “Shirish, meanwhile, is on the back nine of his career.”

A Citi spokesman was careful to point out that the chairman role is still key to Citi, as it is client-facing and, in Apte’s case, frees him up to spend more time with key clients in India and Asean. “Asean is a key growing focus for Citi with the launching of brokerage operations in Indonesia and Malaysia last year and he will be spending most of his time now seeing clients,” said the insider.

Bird and Apte had been co-heads since 2009, with Bird focusing on China, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan, and Apte concentrating on South and Southeast Asia. Bird will run Asia, but he will also continue to spend time with key clients in North Asia.

While Europe goes to hell in a handbasket and New York remains under siege by the Occupy Wall Street movement, businesses in Asia continue to grow. Bird has been a driving force behind Citi’s effort to expand its branch network in China, increasing the number from 50 to 150 during the past three years, and played a key role in helping Citi to win the mandate for AIA’s initial public offering in October last year. Under Bird and Apte’s guidance, the bank’s Asia business has just booked its strongest ever third-quarter results with a profit of $1.4 billion, which amounted to 36% of global profits.

Skyrocketing careers
Bird joined Citi in Singapore in 1998 as the Asia-Pacific head for operations and technology. In addition to his role as CEO of Citi North Asia he has been head of consumer banking and global cards in Asia-Pacific, responsible for the retail banking, credit card and consumer finance businesses that serve more than 32 million customers. He also served four years in Citi Japan as CEO of credit cards and consumer finance. Earlier, he was head of operations and technology for Citi Latin America.

Apte has more than 28 years of experience with Citi, starting as a relationship manager with Citi India. He has also been securities and banking CEO for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and before that was country manager and deputy president of Citi in Handlowy, Poland. He has held various assignments in corporate banking, risk management and corporate finance and investment banking before becoming securities and banking head in India.

“We’ll be relying on Shirish to expand our client business in India and Southeast Asia, and act as a key liaison with financial and regulatory officials,” said global CEO Pandit in an internal memo that FinanceAsia has seen. “His deep knowledge of the region and extensive relationships will continue to serve our clients and shareholders well.”

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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