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Citigroup Targets Banking Basics Amid ‘Anger,’ Pandit Says

Citigroup Inc. (C) is practicing “responsible finance” and going “back to the basics of banking” as lenders address public anger after the financial crisis, Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit said.

“It’s important for the financial system to acknowledge there’s a great deal of anger directed at it,” Pandit said today at a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The system must “balance safety and soundness but also address the need for growth. Trust has been broken. Banks have to serve clients, not serve themselves.”

Pandit said the biggest challenges for the world economy in the next 10 years include the creation of new jobs and investment in infrastructure.

“The single biggest issue facing us is the question of jobs,” he said, estimating the world must create 400 million jobs over 10 years. “That’s going to take a lot of growth.”

The world needs a “recommitment to globalization,” and you need a “banking system that can support that,” he said.

Pandit also said New York-based Citigroup, the third- largest U.S. bank, “just yesterday” declined to assist a potential client that wanted to buy another company with “excessive amounts of leverage.”

“Our decision was to step away,” he said, declining to provide details of the client or the deal.

To contact the reporters on this story: Keith Campbell in London at k.campbell@bloomberg.net; Christine Harper in New York at charper@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net; Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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