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Citigroup Consumer Marketing Chief Peluso Takes CEO Job at Gilt

Michelle Peluso left her post as Citigroup Inc.’s global consumer chief marketing and Internet officer to run Gilt Groupe Inc., an online shopping site, with an eye toward taking the company public.

Peluso was named chief executive officer of Gilt, replacing Kevin Ryan, a founder, who led the search. She has been on the New York-based online retailer’s board since October 2009, Gilt said yesterday in a statement. Peluso joined Citigroup in 2009 after serving as CEO of Sabre Holdings Corp.’s online reservations unit, Travelocity, since 2003, Gilt said.

“It’s hard to find the right person who can understand the startup mentality yet still manage a 1,000-person company,” Ryan said in an interview. “She’s done a startup in the past, she’s worked at a large company, and that list is literally like five people.”

Peluso is likely to lead Gilt in an initial public offering as early as next year, said Ryan, who is remaining as chairman. Gilt, valued at $1 billion in a funding round last year, began with a focus on luxury-good sales that usually last about 36 hours. The company has expanded into regular-priced items and markets such as food and travel, moves that risked brand dilution.

Peluso, who helped modernize airline reservations at Travelocity, has tried to make Citigroup’s banking technology more consumer-friendly. Citigroup hired her as a consultant in 2009 to oversee strategy sessions aimed at turning the New York-based lender into a “Bank of the Future,” people familiar with the matter said at the time.

Image Repair

She later became full-time marketing officer at Citigroup’s consumer-banking unit as the lender sought to repair its image after almost collapsing during the financial crisis and taking a $45 billion bailout. She reported directly to the division’s global head, Manuel Medina-Mora.

“Michelle has made a significant impact to our ongoing efforts to become a best-in-class client-centric global consumer banking franchise,” said Sean Kevelighan, a Citigroup spokesman. “She has worked tirelessly to help advance and enhance our clients’ banking experience. We wish her much continued success as she enters this next phase.”

He declined to comment on a replacement.

Citigroup announced plans two days ago to cut more than 11,000 jobs, including about 6,200 in global consumer banking.

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