- Perlowitz's career spanned mortgage bonds' beginnings, growth
- Retirement concludes 35 years at Citigroup, Salomon Brothers
Citigroup Inc.’s Jeff Perlowitz, who helped build -- and after the financial crisis, rebuild -- the market for mortgage-backed securities, is retiring after more than three decades on Wall Street.
Perlowitz, 59, announced his plan to step down as co-head of the New York-based bank’s unit that trades bonds backed by assets such as home loans and credit-card debt, according to a memo Thursday from Citigroup President Jamie Forese and markets chief Paco Ybarra. A company spokeswoman confirmed the contents of a copy obtained by Bloomberg.
The departure is the first change to the senior ranks of Citigroup’s trading unit since Nadir Mahmud was picked to replace Anil Prasad more than two years ago as head of the foreign-exchange and local markets business. The securitized markets business accounted for about 15 percent of the bank’s fixed-income revenue, according to a November 2014 presentation.
Perlowitz spent 35 years at the firm and its predecessors, and in 1997 began sharing duties for mortgage trading and then, more broadly, securitized markets with Mark Tsesarsky, in what the memo calls "one of the longest-running partnerships on Wall Street." The pair were named to help oversee and shrink Citigroup’s structured credit business in December 2007 after billions of dollars in losses on subprime mortgage debt. The firm later took and repaid the largest bailout of any U.S. bank in the crisis.
“Jeff has been an integral part of our company’s success and we are incredibly grateful for his stewardship and professionalism during some of the most challenging times in our firm’s history,” Forese and Ybarra wrote in the memo. “During his career, he embodied all the best qualities of a leader: being tough, compassionate and unwaveringly ethical.”
Tsesarsky will continue as sole head of the unit, said Danielle Romero-Apsilos, a bank spokeswoman.
Perlowitz graduated from the State University of New York at Albany in 1977, and joined Salomon Brothers in 1980, according to a profile posted on a trade association’s website.
At Salomon, he worked in the back office for Lewis Ranieri, according to the memo. Ranieri helped turn the firm into Wall Street’s most-profitable in the 1980s by being one of the first to package mortgages and sell them as securities.