Last night we saw news out of the Financial Times reporting that Citigroup, Inc. (NYSE: C) was on tap looking to unload some $400 Billion. The plan is set for today’s analyst meeting, although no press release has come from the company regarding what assets this will be and just where that will go.
While a billion dollars just isn’t what it used to be, four-hundred of them is still a massive number no matter how you cut it.
The FT also noted that CEO Vikram Pandit will aim to cut the company’s $60 Billion cost basis by some 20%. This is all said to be an effort to turn down the request to break up the financial giant.
When we hear about $400 Billion, the breakdown of the how and the what becomes ever-important. First and foremost, this won’t be an eBay or a Fed swap, and it won’t even be anything instant.
As of March 31, 2008, Citi had some $2.199 Trillion listed as assets on the books. It also listed total liabilities as $2.07 Trillion. With all of the recent financings and with all of the real plans, it’s probably too hard to call the ball on where those books really sit today. Citigroup also lists some $67.5 Billion as "goodwill" and "intangibles" on its assets. On a combined basis, those two combined have grown over the last year while the distrust and while the problems have both grown in the entire financial system.
When companies get this large and this diversified and this spread out around the world, let’s just say that it’s always safe to assume a little financial alchemy has to be used with currency adjustments and the like.
What is interesting here is that this could bring up the potential sale of Diners Club credit card operations and could even include Primerica. Don’t forget about all of those trading assets and all the minority investments it holds. It is also a significant holder of land related assets. We could even see retail banking operations go on the block in select countries where Citigroup decides to to not have a core presence.
Comments from this analyst call should be coming out soon, so stay tuned.
Jon C. Ogg
May 9, 2008
Jon Ogg produces and edits the "10 Stocks Under $10" weekly newsletter for 247WallSt.com.