By David Henry
NEW YORK - Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) Chief Executive Jane Fraser faces a struggle to convince skeptical analysts and investors that she can turn the bank around despite overseeing a radical overhaul in less than a year at the helm.
Fraser took over at the helm of the Wall Street bank in February 2021, tasked with transforming a business whose share price had lagged rivals like JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) during her predecessor Michael Corbat's eight years at the helm.
Since her appointment, she has sought to simplify the firm, overseeing its biggest revamp since the 2007-09 financial crisis. The bank announced plans to exit non-core businesses, including consumer franchises in 13 markets across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa last April.
On Tuesday, it doubled down, saying it planned to sell or spin-off its Mexican consumer business, which Fraser had run as head of the bank's Latin American businesses, prior to becoming CEO.
The bank went further still on Thursday, announcing the sale of its consumer businesses in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
The decision to sell the Mexican business, which Fraser had previously said had the scale to succeed which the bank's Asian consumer franchises lacked, is arguably her boldest move yet in reshaping the bank.
Citi's CFO Mark Mason said on Friday that the decision to exit that business was driven by the bank's strategy to focus on its institutional business. While the Mexico consumer business had delivered good returns, it would be more valuable to another owner, Mason said.
However, Citigroup's share price continues to lag rivals, suggesting that investors are yet to be convinced that Fraser's turnaround plans will bear fruit anytime soon.
"It is a show-me situation," said analyst Dick Bove of Odeon Capital. "This company has been mischaracterized, mismanaged, and poorly handled by one...