Citigroup Emerging Markets Head Biglari to Leave the Bank

Citigroup Inc. said Hamid Biglari, head of the emerging-markets business, is leaving as Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat overhauls management and cuts thousands of jobs.

Biglari, 54, decided to leave Citigroup “to explore other professional opportunities,” Corbat said in an internal memorandum sent to employees, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. Mark Costiglio, a spokesman for the New York-based lender, confirmed the contents of the memo.

Corbat is changing Citigroup’s operations as he seeks to cut costs after replacing Vikram Pandit as CEO in October. Biglari, who previously was chief operating officer of the lender’s institutional-clients group, is among the most senior executives to leave since Pandit’s departure. His exit follows the retirements of Vice-Chairman Lewis “Lew” Kaden and consumer operations boss Richard Garside and a reduction of duties for operations and technology head Don Callahan.

“We will miss Hamid’s strategic counsel,” Corbat said in the memo. “His efforts helped to refocus our firm on our core banking businesses, develop our emerging markets growth strategy, strengthen our client relationships globally and ensure we remained at the forefront of thought leadership in the industry.”

12 Years

Biglari has been at Citigroup for 12 years, according to the memo. He’s responsible for “prioritization, resource allocation and portfolio optimization” across the bank’s operations in emerging markets, according to a profile on Citigroup’s website.

He is chairman of the business-development committee, which oversees the bank’s institutional-client activities, and head of content, including the research departments, according to the profile.

Biglari gained his emerging-markets post in 2011 from Pandit, who was hiring thousands of workers and investing billions of dollars in countries such as India, Brazil, China and Singapore. Citigroup relies on emerging markets for more than half of its profit, the bank has said.

Costiglio, the spokesman, didn’t immediately comment on who will replace Biglari in his different roles, including his directorship with Akbank TAS, the Turkish bank part-owned by Citigroup. The Istanbul-based lender appointed Biglari to the board in September, according to a regulatory filing.

Biglari was previously a partner at McKinsey & Co. and holds a doctorate in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University, according to the Citigroup profile. He worked at Princeton’s Plasma Physics Laboratory, which focuses on controlled thermonuclear fusion research, according to the profile.

He didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed requests for comment.