Encouraging words from Jane Fraser

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Here’s incoming Citi CEO Jane Fraser, in American Banker last month:

What we are looking at, at the moment, is much more around what we want to be going forward and where we are in the work is looking at . . . the different businesses [and] how do they best fit together. If it ends up that there are businesses we look at that we don’t think fit well into the mix, then I think we’ve got good skills in terms of thinking about how we divest of those in a way that makes sense. [Emphasis added.]

A promising start, I’d say. I’ve been following Citi for 40 years, and I spent the first five of those in awe of the franchise and management team, but have spent the last 35 years frustrated by the company’s poor execution (especially in controlling costs) and lack of focus. Under CEO Mike Corbat, the company did address these issues and made some sensible divestitures, but I never thought he went far enough. If Fraser succeeds in executing a successful restructuring and downsizing of Citigroup, she will have created more value for its shareholders than any other Citi CEO, even Walter Wriston, in my lifetime.