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Vikram Pandit among 20 worst ever CEOs

April 23, 2009 16:24 IST
Donning the role of a commander ill-equipped to save the Titanic of banking world, Citigroup's India-born chief Vikram Pandit has found a place among the 20 worst ever CEOs in the American history, but the top honours has gone to bankrupt Lehman Brothers' Dick Fuld.

The list of America's 20 worst ever CEOs, compiled by business magazine Conde Nast Portfolio after consulting with a panel of business school professors, identifies the business "leaders who helped drive their companies into the ground."

These 20 include "six men who helped make today's economy stink", the magazine said.

The list has been topped by Dick Fuld, under whose stewardship Lehman Brothers became the world's biggest ever bankruptcy candidate and marked the epitome of the current global economic crisis.

Pandit has been ranked last at 20th position in the list, which also includes troubled insurer AIG's Martin Sullivan and failed investment bank Merrill Lynch's Stan O'Neal as also computer giant HP's former chief Carly Fiorina, Enron's former chief Ken Lay and bankrupt telecom firm WorldCom's Bernie Ebbers.

About Pandit, the magazine said that he "did not create the mess Citi is in, but he is the financial services equivalent of the Titanic's Edward Smith - a commander ill-equipped to save his ship."

"When Pandit took over, Citi was already on track to report write-downs and increased credit costs of $20 billion. Today, the banking supermarket is propped up by $45 billion in bailouts and is, in effect, owned by the US government," Conde Nast Portfolio noted.

It further noted that Pandit's current salary was $1 dollar, but his "pay package was valued at $38.2 million for 2008, a year when taxpayers kept the firm in business."

Conde Nast Portfolio determined the rank after consulting a panel of professors from business schools like MIT Solan School of Management, Tuck School of Business, Wharton School, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Yale School of Management and Kellogg School of Management.

The panelists were asked to consider each CEO's record of creating or destroying value, innovation and management skills or lack thereof.

About top ranked Fuld, the magazine said that "it's one thing to oversee the collapse of one of the Wall Street's most esteemed firms. But when your hubris triggers a national financial panic as well, you're a shoo-in for our top prize."

"Fuld's reckless risk-taking may have been typical of Wall Street, but his refusal to acknowledge that his firm was in trouble - and take the steps necessary to save it - was beyond the pale.

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