Citigroup Inc can be more than just a survivor of the financial crisis, Chief Executive Vikram Pandit told shareholders on Thursday.

We have come a long way and we continue to move forward, Pandit said at the bank's annual meeting in New York.

The third-largest U.S. bank by assets, on the brink of failure at the height of the financial crisis, has slowly recovered after getting three government bailouts.

As of December, Citigroup no longer counts the U.S. government as a shareholder. The bank now has five straight quarters of profits behind it. On Monday it reported a first-quarter profit of $3 billion.

Pandit concluded his prepared remarks by thanking shareholders for their support and patience. Only about 300 shareholders showed up to hear that thanks, filling about half of the ballroom in the New York Hilton.

Not everyone there was convinced that Pandit will succeed in reinventing Citigroup as more than a near-victim of the financial crisis.

It's still in an infantile stage, said John Smith, 63, an investor from New Jersey, after the main part of the meeting concluded. They still have a lot of toxic assets ... but they're doing the right things.

Like its largest rivals, Citigroup has seen its revenue shrink even as its losses on bad loans subside.

Pandit has tried to reposition the bank for growth, shedding businesses and hiring staff to overhaul key units like its U.S. consumer bank.

He is turning Citigroup increasingly abroad, hoping the bank's international presence can help it gain a foothold in emerging markets and compensate for its relatively small U.S. retail bank presence.

We're going to get our earnings higher over time, in part by focusing on consumer businesses and international markets, Pandit told shareholders.

The bank's shares were down 3 cents at $4.53 in Thursday afternoon trading.


Pandit took over Citigroup in late 2007 as it was starting to recognize billions of dollars of losses on subprime loans.

He returned it to a year of profits in 2010. But like its top competitors, Citigroup mostly powered its recent quarterly profits by releasing money it set aside to cover bad loans.

I think all of us are looking forward to a return to normalized earnings, and not just reserve releases to increase the quarterly earnings, one investor told Pandit and Chairman Richard Parsons.

He was one of many shareholders to take the microphone to object to the bank's plans to reduce its outstanding share count next month with a reverse stock split.

Citigroup said in March that it would reinstate a nominal 1-cent dividend after it cuts the number of shares outstanding with the 1-for-10 reverse split.

The annual meeting mainly attracts individual investors, who repeatedly complained about how the bank's shares used to trade at more than $50 apiece and now trade at less than $5. The share price will increase to about $45 each after the reverse share split, but each investor's total number of shares will shrink by 90 percent.

Pandit repeatedly tried to reassure the audience that they would not lose overall value from the reverse split. At one point he told a shareholder, It's a little bit like a pizza pie. Whether you have 10 slices or 12 slices, it's the same pie.

(Reporting by Maria Aspan. Editing by John Wallace and Robert MacMillan)