October 17, 2012

Citigroup's new boss Mike Corbat is rushing to plug the gap he left at the helm of the U.S. bank's European business, a major hub for investment banking income but which still lags other regions by revenue.

The U.S. bank has been pushing to recover market share in Europe, the Middle East and Africa under Corbat's tenure as chief executive for the region in the past year. Corbat was propelled to the top job at Citi on Tuesday after Vikram Pandit suddenly quit.

Citi could outline its plan for the European leadership as early as Wednesday or Thursday, two Citi insiders said.

It is unclear, however, whether the bank will opt for an interim boss to give Corbat time to map out broader management changes, or make an immediate appointment.

One of the strongest contenders is Jim Cowles, the former head of markets in the region promoted under Corbat to chief operating officer for EMEA in February.

Cowles, who is also in charge of Western Europe, would be one of the natural successors to Corbat, three people familiar with the matter said - unless he follows Corbat to another role.

John Havens, Citi's global chief operating officer, also resigned on Tuesday.

Corbat, who had previously run Citi Holdings, the unit housing businesses and assets the bank wants to shed, had taken a hands-on approach in his EMEA job - a manager role that involves liaising with regulators rather than directly talking to clients.

He divided the EMEA region into four clusters, split by sub-regions, and reinforced some senior investment banking roles, naming James Bardrick and Manuel Falco as corporate and investment banking heads.

Some of the top regional managers or investment bankers could also be contenders for the senior EMEA job, though Citi insiders added that Corbat could prefer to turn to someone he knows from further back, such as former colleagues from Citi Holdings.

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