Out of Control Policy Blog

Feds take ownership stake in Citigroup

Bailout heaven continues as Citigroup agrees to letting the government become a major equity stakeholder in exchange for loan guarantees. See this article in the New York Times for more information.

The complex plan calls for the government to back about $306 billion in loans and securities and directly invest about $20 billion in the company. The plan, emerging after a harrowing week in the financial markets, is the government's third effort in three months to contain the deepening economic crisis and may set the precedent for other multibillion-dollar financial rescues....

Under the agreement, Citigroup and regulators will back up to $306 billion of largely residential and commercial real estate loans and certain other assets, which will remain on the bank's balance sheet. Citigroup will shoulder losses on the first $29 billion of that portfolio.

Any remaining losses will be split between Citigroup and the government, with the bank absorbing 10 percent and the government absorbing 90 percent. The Treasury Department will use its bailout fund to assume up to $5 billion of losses. If necessary, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will bear the next $10 billion of losses. Beyond that, the Federal Reserve will guarantee any additional losses.

In exchange, Citigroup will issue $7 billion of preferred stock to government regulators. In addition, the government is buying $20 billion of preferred stock in Citigroup. The preferred shares will pay an 8 percent dividend and will slightly erode the value of shares held by investors.

Citigroup also agrees to restraints on executive compensation, and will let federal government regulators review compensation agreements.

Hey, who needs capitalism where firms might actually fail when they make bad decisions when you can rely on the federal government to manage your company even better?

Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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