Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2009 (Revised August 2011)

What Happened at Citigroup? (A)

by Clayton S. Rose and Aldo Sesia

Abstract

What went wrong at Citigroup? In 1998, the Travelers Group and Citicorp merged to create Citigroup Inc., considered the first true global "financial supermarket" and a business model to be envied, feared, and emulated. By year-end 2006 the firm had a market capitalization of $274 billion, with $1.9 trillion in assets and $24.6 billion in earnings. But, ten years after the merger, it ended in tears. In July 2009, the firm was effectively nationalized, with billions of dollars in bailout money converted into a 34% ownership stake for the U.S. government. Citigroup was worth less than $16 billion, having lost more than $250 billion in value from its peak. This case examines Citi's business model, the challenges it faced, its leadership, and key decisions to better understand what contributed to the failure of one of the most powerful financial firms in the world.

Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Business Model; Decision Choices and Conditions; Globalized Firms and Management; Leadership; Risk Management; Failure; Financial Services Industry;

Citation:

Rose, Clayton S., and Aldo Sesia. "What Happened at Citigroup? (A)." Harvard Business School Case 310-004, July 2009. (Revised August 2011.)