A Citigroup bank branch in New York, the US. Picture: GABBY JONES/BLOOMBERG
A Citigroup bank branch in New York, the US. Picture: GABBY JONES/BLOOMBERG

New York — James Forese, president and CEO of Citigroup’s institutional clients business, which contributed two-thirds of the bank’s profits in 2018, is retiring, according to an internal memo.

This would be the most high-profile departure from the executive team at the third largest US bank since consumer banking head Manuel Medina-Mora left three years ago.

The division fell short of some annual targets in 2018 and Forese was the only executive on the operating committee not to receive a raise for the year, according to a recent filing.

Citi said Forese, 56, decided to retire after 34 years at the company. He has told acquaintances he was frustrated and unhappy, according to sources.

Forese was the second highest earner at Citi after CEO Michael Corbat. His unit, which includes treasury services, the investment bank, corporate lending, and capital markets, delivered 50% of revenues and more than two-thirds of profits to the bank in 2018 .

Forese, who began overseeing the business in 2011, will be replaced by Paco Ybarra, global head of markets and securities services.

“Jamie has played a critical role in cultivating a client-centric mindset across the firm and driving tangible changes to make it easier for our clients to do business with us,” CEO Mike Corbat said.

Ybarra will take over the division on May 1. Forese will stay through the summer to help with the transition. Forese spent his entire career at Citi. He came to the bank through Salomon Brothers, which he joined in 1985, and cut his teeth in the securities trading business, eventually working his way up to become head of the markets division.

Forese sought to make the business more efficient by focusing on clients who benefited most from Citi’s global structure and expertise, reducing the group’s client total to under 14,000 from more than 32,000. He also allocated more resources to emerging markets, which became a source of rapid, steady growth.

Ybarra joined Citi in Spain as a management associate. He rose through the ranks, with stints in Mexico, New York, and Singapore where he focused on emerging markets. In his most recent role, Ybarra was based out of London.

As deputy, Ybarra was focused on capital allocation and technology. He will oversee a recently restructured investment bank. In September, Citi merged its investment banking operations with its capital markets origination unit.

The CEO of its Asia Pacific region, Francisco Aristeguieta, will leave the company later in April to pursue an external opportunity, Citi said.

CEO for Citibank NA, Carey Lathrop, and the global head of G10 rates, markets, treasury and finance, Andy Morton, become co-heads of markets and securities services, filling Ybarra’s spot.