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Citigroup Shareholders Meeting A Raucous Affair

Citigroup's annual shareholders meeting has had a lively past, as holders of Citi stock parade to the microphone and let the company's managers have it, but today's meeting may have contained the most anger.

The bank, considered along with Bank of America, one of the two sickest on Wall Street, its balance sheet clogged with troubled assets, has lost more than 80 percent of its value over the past year, traded as low as 97 cents per share earlier this year and has received more than $50 billion in government bailout money.

So it was little surprise today when retiring Citi director Bob Rubin was introduced, Reuters reported a man yelled out from the audience, "Thank God you've gone!"

Some shareholders wish the same fate for chief executive Vikram Pandit, who did his best to put a good face on today's meeting and on his company, which reported a $1.6 billion first-quarter profit last week.

When Citi chairman Dick Parsons was introduced, and his "achievements" at AOL Time Warner (an ill-fated 2001 merger) were lauded, hoots and laughter erupted from the audience, CNBC reported.

Parsons, as is his manner, remained unflappable throughout and tried a couple of turns of humor to defuse the situation.

When a shareholder asked if the federal government had any representatives in the audience, Parsons quipped, "If they're foolish, they can raise their hand," drawing laughter.

But not everyone was buying Parsons's bonhomie. Shareholders called the Citi board "Byzantine," "socialist" and "communist."

"How many more years do you have to sit through a shareholder meeting like this before you get it right? You need a new director core," said Richard Ferlauto, director of pension and benefits policy for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Reuters reported.

Despite the shareholder anger, all directors standing for election made it onto the board with at least 70 percent of the vote. Some shareholder proposals came close to passing, but did not.

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  April 21, 2009; 3:10 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Citigroup, Richard Parsons, Vikarm Pandit  
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