Citi streamlines upper management in Asia

Rodrigo Zorrilla has been appointed chief operating officer, while Anthony Nappi becomes chief administrative officer and Michael Zink will lead the Asean business.
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Stephen Bird, accepting Citi's award for Best Bank at last week's <em>FinanceAsia</em> awards dinner
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<div style="text-align: left;"> Stephen Bird, accepting Citi's award for Best Bank at last week's <em>FinanceAsia</em> awards dinner </div>

Stephen Bird is putting his stamp on Citi’s Asia business. The CEO, who took on the sole title on January 1, announced a restructuring plan of upper management in an internal memo yesterday, in a move that restructures the business to support one CEO, with promotions for some of the bank’s business leaders in Asia.

The changes will also reduce the amount of time Bird spends on conference calls to upper management, freeing him to spend more time with clients and actually running the largest region for Citi globally. Under the old co-CEO structure, with Bird running North Asia and his former co-CEO (who is now chairman of Asia banking) Shirish Apte running South Asia, there were duplicates in upper management roles. The new hierarchy will streamline Citi.

As Bird wrote in the memo: “Our structure needs to support this overarching goal and enable us to operate effectively and efficiently across our 17 markets and five lines of business. To enable me to manage the Asia-Pacific franchise across the region, I am appointing a chief operating officer (COO) and a chief administrative officer (CAO).”

Rodrigo Zorrilla, who was the former markets head, has been appointed as COO and will partner with all of Citi’s product groups to make sure clients are covered by as many Citi products as the bank can offer. Basically, he’s tasked with overseeing the “integrated banking model” that Citi touts as its strength. He will be in charge of making sure Citi bankers increase the cross-sell between business lines. This is a sensible promotion as Zorilla’s flow business has been a well-known money-generating machine for Citi, but insiders also say he’s got standout management skills — ie, he’s actually liked by his colleagues.

Anthony Nappi has become the CAO and will be expected to ensure that Citi’s operations, technology and its functional support groups are aligned to underpin its growth strategy. Nappi was the global transaction services head, which encompasses Citi’s cash and trade business, and is an increasingly important unit within the bank — it generated $1.2 billion in profit in Asia during 2011, making it the biggest business for Citi globally. In this light, the promotion quite literally adds up.

The bank is also creating a new role, the Asean cluster head — according to Bird’s memo, this will “create better spans of control and the right level of support for each chief country officer”. Singapore CEO Michael Zink will spearhead this effort. He will report to Bird, and the Asean country heads will report to Zink — a move that single-handedly should reduce Bird’s teleconferencing time as Citi’s Asean cluster includes Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Guam, as well as Brunei, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

After significant expansion in this region across Citi’s retail and institutional bank, including the opening of brokerage operations in the Philippines and Indonesia during the past 18 months, it has now grown big enough to warrant its own chief.

The product group heads remain the same, except for Nadir Mahmud, who previously was the FX and local markets boss for Asia. He will run global markets, taking over for Zorrilla. Nappi’s replacement in global transaction services is yet to be announced, but it is rumoured to be an internal promotion.

A spokesman for Citi confirmed the contents of the memo and added: “This structure creates clear leadership accountability and enhances communication and alignment against Citi’s global growth priorities in a region that is core to Citi and generated more than a third of the bank’s global profit in 2011.”

An insider noted that Bird continues to have complete P&L control and operating responsibility to grow the Asia franchise, which is at the strategic core of Citi’s emerging markets drive. “Bird is, and remains, the boss,” said the source.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.

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