Succession planning advice, now from shareholders

Posted: November 10th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Archive, Business, HR, Systematic Viewpoints | No Comments »

Citigroup has seen it’s stock drop some 30% in the last month due to ‘exposure’ related to subprime mortgage debt issues. Last weekend, the CEO, Chuck Prince stepped down as a direct result of the losses. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud owns about three and a half percent of Citigroup. In an interview for Fortune, Prince Alwaleed comments:

“It is a pity what is happening, but I hope that a big lesson is learned in the board of directors and the management of Citibank.

Q: What is that lesson specifically?

A: The lesson is that, No. 1, this management has to be at the highest class possible. No. 2, they have to have a succession plan. You can’t have a company that size without a [successor] ready. And No. 3, you need a professional who has run a bank.”

Fascinating to see succession planning highlighted as a take-away for the board in light of write-offs approaching US $15 billion, yet I wonder how realistic it is for a company like Citigroup (or Merril Lynch, who are in the same position and presumably courting some of the same candidates) to have someone- internal or external – primed and ready to step up when the going gets weird. Jockeying for the top can be such a socio-political struggle that I personally can’t imagine modeling a plan to contain it.

So anyway, the job is apparently still open if anyone’s interested. Didn’t see it listed on, though.