Charity Parties and Earnings Prep Overlap for Corbat, Schwarzman

  • The American Red Cross feted Corbat -- and got him home early
  • Schwarzman took honors for working on U.S.-China relations

Twelve hours before Citigroup would report third-quarter earnings Thursday morning, Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat was planted in a chair, watching a video about the American Red Cross and how it prepares for and responds to disasters.

Michael Corbat, Donna Corbat and Josh Lockwood, CEO of the American Red Cross in Greater New York

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

The timing was coincidental: The Red Cross in Greater New York’s annual gala had landed on Corbat’s calendar long before the bank’s earnings report, the Citigroup chief said during the cocktail hour, where he mingled (without a tipple) and pointed out the many ways the bank’s employees have supported the Red Cross: giving blood, distributing supplies during Hurricane Sandy, and writing thank-you notes to military personnel on active duty overseas.

Corbat himself wrote a note or two in his “horrible” penmanship. (“I wasn’t smart enough to be a doctor, but my handwriting qualified,” he quipped.)

Later, out of his seat and on stage at Gotham Hall, Corbat showed off his speaking voice as he accepted the Red Cross’s Corporate Leadership Award on behalf of the bank.

Perhaps thanks to Don Callahan, Citigroup’s head of operations and technology and a board member of the Greater New York Red Cross, the gala ended at a very reasonable hour. That was good for the Red Cross, which is planning a disaster drill Saturday to simulate an earthquake on the 125th Street fault line, and good for Corbat too.

“I wanted it to be pretty punctual,” said Citigroup’s chief, stressing that he needed to get back to his earnings prep. “I’ll be out of here at 9.”

Steve Schwarzman said he didn’t need to be home early before Blackstone’s 7 a.m. numbers, a good thing as the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations gala on Wednesday was a longer night. “We’re always prepared,” he said.

Schwarzman shared a table with Henry Kissinger and Maurice Greenberg. When he took the stage to be honored, he focused on how the Chinese government’s investment in Blackstone’s 2007 initial public offering eventually led him to establish the Schwarzman Scholars program.

First, it got him on the International Advisory Board of Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management. Then the university’s leaders asked him “to consider doing something major” to connect Tsinghua with other universities. Then he thought about it, and then he acted.

In 2016, Schwarzman Scholars will enroll its first group of 100 students for a one-year master’s at Tsinghua. More than 3,000 applications from 135 countries have been received. Each one, Schwarzman said, represents the potential for a better understanding of China.

Regardless of how their earnings go Thursday, Corbat and Schwarzman performed well the night before. The American Red Cross of Greater New York and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations each raised about $2 million.

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