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Citigroup Fires Private Bank CIO Cookson Amid Job Cuts

Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc. fired Richard Cookson, chief investment officer of its private bank, as the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets pares costs.

Citigroup will no longer rely on one person to lead the firm’s investment strategy and will instead seek to “better leverage the existing in-house expertise across Citi,” including its markets and banking research teams, the New York-based firm said in an internal memo, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat, 52, said in December that Citigroup will cut about 11,000 jobs, while also shutting branches and pulling back from some emerging markets as revenue dries up at global banks. Cookson’s dismissal was part of the announced job cuts, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

“While we believe it’s critical to retain an independent investment view and voice, there will no longer be a requirement for a single individual to formulate the firm’s investment strategy and asset allocation,” Jane Fraser, CEO of Citigroup’s private bank, wrote in the memo.

Cookson, who was based in London, declined to comment, as did Danielle Romero-Apsilos, a company spokeswoman.

Cookson joined Citigroup in 2009 after working in London as head of global asset-allocation research at HSBC Holdings Plc. He spent almost 10 years at the Economist magazine, where his roles included Japan correspondent and international finance editor, according to a profile on Citigroup’s website.

Frank Frecentese, head of hedge-fund investments at Citigroup’s private bank, left the firm in December, a person familiar with the matter said at the time. Frecentese was in charge of picking funds that the unit’s wealthy clients could invest in, the person said.

Financial services firms including Bank of America Corp., Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS AG have announced a total of more than 300,000 job cuts globally since the start of 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kelly Bit in New York at kbit@bloomberg.net; Donal Griffin in New York at dgriffin10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net

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