The Journal Gets Inside Citi’s Boardroom

The WSJ scoops this morning that Citigroup’s board is considering firing its chairman, Sir Win Bischoff.

Some directors have grown concerned that Sir Win, who is based in London, hasn’t been exercising adequate oversight.

Did no one foresee that having the company’s chairman a continent away might be a problem?

Meanwhile, Citi has a non-denial denial:

“Any report that the board is searching for a new chairman is false,” a Citigroup spokeswoman said Wednesday evening.

And it seems the board is flexing its muscles with CEO Vikram Pandit, as well.

Over the summer, several directors complained to Mr. Pandit that he hadn’t adequately kept them in the loop about his plans. In recent months, the board has been holding meetings twice a month and trying to be more assertive about supervising management decisions. That change has irked some Citigroup executives, who said the board’s involvement in the negotiations to buy Wachovia Corp. slowed the process and gave Wells Fargo & Co. time to re-emerge with a superior offer.

It’s about time boards start waking up and exercising their oversight powers instead of letting executives do what they will. In Citi’s case, this comes after its shares have lost 83 percent of their value. Next, they ought to start fighting back on outlandish pay packages for once.

Good board-level reporting by the Journal.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.