Citigroup’s Russia Research Chief Quits as Pandit Cuts Start

Citigroup Inc.’s Russia research chief, Mikhail Seleznev, said he quit as the U.S. bank begins to cut 4,500 jobs worldwide to control costs.

“I’ve decided to leave the company,” Seleznev said by phone in Moscow today, declining to give a reason. His departure follows that of colleagues including sales trader John Heisel.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to control expenses, we are making targeted headcount reductions in certain businesses and functions across Citi,” Denis Denisov, a Moscow-based spokesman for the bank, said in an e-mail. “Russia is a priority market for Citi, and we continue to invest in our businesses and hire new talents.”

Seleznev rejoined Citigroup in 2009 after leaving in 2008 to join Deutsche Bank AG in Moscow as co-head of research.

Other departures include equity traders Alexander Zorov and Sergey Akimov, according to Citigroup director Pavel Zinoviev, who answered Zorov’s phone today.

Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit said Dec. 6 that he plans to cut 4,500 jobs to trim costs amid slumping revenue and what he called “unprecedented” market conditions. Pandit is reducing staff as the European sovereign-debt crisis persists and banks prepare for regulations on minimum capital levels to take effect, threatening revenue from trading and investment banking. Denisov, the Citigroup spokesman, declined to say how many Russia employees are affected.

Banking Cutbacks

Otkritie Financial Corp., the Russia brokerage partly owned by the country’s second-largest bank, said on Oct. 18 it is cutting 10 percent of its staff, while VTB Group, the state bank, said on Oct. 14 it plans to eliminate 1,500 jobs over the next two years. Renaissance Group, a Moscow-based bank that invests in emerging markets, said on Sept. 27 that it’s cutting 10 percent of its global workforce, about 125 jobs. The group includes Renaissance Capital, the investment bank partly owned by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

Russia’s Micex Index has slumped 10 percent this month as Europe’s debt crisis and domestic political uncertainty hurt demand for the country’s commodities. Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets last week to protest the results of a parliamentary contest that election observers from the U.S. and Europe said was neither free nor fair, sending equities and the ruble tumbling. The benchmark index sank 3.3 percent yesterday after Prokhorov announced plans to challenge Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in March’s elections.

“We have only had a week of markets going down 10 percent,” Kingsmill Bond, Citigroup’s chief strategist for Russia, said in a Moscow interview today. “Before we had 12 years of non-political risk in Russia, so I suspect there is still a lot of investors who remain nervous.”

Citigroup, which has 3,600 employees in investment and consumer banking in Russia, was one of the first foreign banks to enter the Russian market when it set up a local unit in 1993.

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