Citigroup Inc's board of directors is holding an emergency meeting this weekend, Dow Jones reported on Friday.
Citigroup's poor stock performance -- the bank's shares have fallen more than 30 percent this year and are trading at their lowest level since April 2003 -- has left many investors urging the ouster of Chief Executive Chuck Prince.
The agenda for the weekend board meeting was not immediately clear, but removing Chuck Prince or taking write-downs may come up, Dow Jones said.
If Prince is ousted, Citi director Robert Rubin is being considered as an interim replacement, but he is reluctant to take the responsibility, Dow Jones said.
You can imagine the pressure they're feeling from the market's reaction to negative news and their continuing inability to reassure the market, said Thomas Russo, a partner at Gardner Russo & Gardner in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which invests more than $3 billion and owns Citi shares.
Michael Hanretta, a spokesman for Citi, declined to comment.
Citigroup said on October 15 that third-quarter profit slid 57 percent as losses mounted in areas including subprime mortgages and corporate loans to junk-rated companies.
Those results included $6.5 billion of pretax losses and write-downs in subprime mortgage bonds and other assets. Write-downs combined with some $25 billion of acquisitions over the last year have left Citigroup's capital levels relatively low.
Citigroup Chief Financial Officer Gary Crittenden said on a conference call after the earnings that the bank was halting share buybacks to rebuild capital.
CIBC World Markets analyst Meredith Whitney on Thursday said Citi may need to raise more capital through measures, including dividend cuts and assets sales. Citi's shares dropped 8 percent on Thursday and another 2 percent on Friday, closing at $37.73 on the New York Stock Exchange.
In after-hours trading on Friday, Citi shares rose 1.9 percent to $38.45.
TOUGH TIMES FOR CITI
Citi's shares are trading below their levels in October 2003, when Prince took the reins at the company. The cost of protecting the company's debt against default has shot up to levels that imply the bank's credit ratings should be cut.
Rubin, a former U.S. Treasury Secretary and former co- chairman of Goldman Sachs, joined Citi in 1999.
Rubin has become a very well paid chairman of the executive committee, in 2006 getting $17.3 million of compensation and realizing $12.1 million from stock and option awards.
He has faced criticism from analysts, including Deutsche Bank's Michael Mayo who contended it was not clear what he did.
If Prince is really kicked out, investors should expect at least one more big write-down at Citi, as the new chief executive tries to clear the balance sheet of assets with even a whiff of trouble about them, said a portfolio manager who asked not to be named.
Citigroup may also be broken up under new leadership. Prince has said repeatedly he intends to keep the financial conglomerate intact, but some portfolio managers believe the largest bank in the U.S. is unwieldy.
It has too many moving parts, said James Armstrong, president of Henry H. Armstrong Associates, which does not own Citi shares.
(Reporting by Dan Wilchins; additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel)