Former Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Charles Prince apologized on Thursday for Citi's failure to better prepare for the financial crisis, at the same time as he defended the third-largest U.S. bank's size and conglomerate nature.

In remarks prepared for delivery to a congressionally appointed panel investigating the causes of the devastating crisis that wracked the country from 2007-2009, Prince said he does not believe Citi was too big to manage.

I can only say that I am deeply sorry that our management -- starting with me -- was not more prescient and that we did not foresee what lay before us, he said.

Prince said he believes the financial world needs large, diversified banks but he said it is not good for the country to have a financial system that can be damaged by the failure or threatened failure of key financial institutions.

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)