"He was extremely well rounded," says Andrew Doctoroff, a fellow Harvard student, who wrote about the then All-Ivy offensive lineman in The Harvard Crimson in 1982. "He kept his athletic prowess in perspective."
Even back then, the 6'3'', 230-pound Corbat had his sights on tackling investment banking. He's now landed in one of the biggest jobs on Wall Street, and perhaps the toughest.
On Tuesday, Citigroup (C) said Corbat, 52, would take over from Vikram Pandit as the firm's new CEO. Pandit brought Citi back from its near death experience, when it had to be bailed out twice by the government. It has since paid Uncle Sam back. But the bank has struggled to grow. Recently, Citi missed out on a boom in the mortgage market. What's more, Citi is still stuck with billions of dollars of assets that the bank says it no longer wants to own, but can't seem to figure out how to get rid of. The troubled assets have continued to drag down Citi's earnings.
"We have the right footprint and the right resources," Corbat told analysts on conference call on Tuesday afternoon. "It's up to us to make sure we use these properly."
Unlike Pandit, who was brought into the bank in a controversial acquisition shortly before being picked as CEO, Corbat is a lifer of the Citi organization. "He's had a broader range of roles leading up to the job than Pandit," says a former Citi executive who worked with Corbat. "He's a capable guy and a good salesman."
Corbat's first job was working for Salomon Brothers in Atlanta. But by 1987, he had been transferred to Solly's legendary New York office, which later became the subject of Michael Lewis' famous Wall Street book Liar's Poker. A debt specialist, Corbat rose to be the head of high-yield bonds and emerging markets at Solly, before the firm was merged in a series of acquisitions with Citibank to form Citigroup.
Sandy Weill, the former CEO of Citigroup, said that he knows Corbat well and thought Citi's board had made a good choice. "He has been a great manager for Citi in all of the important positions he has held," said Weill. "He is respected by the people within the company and he will be a good leader for the team in the future."
Since the Citigroup merger, Corbat has headed up a number of businesses at the firm, including corporate bank and its wealth management division, and has spent time in London and Hong Kong. Shortly after the financial crisis, Pandit named Corbat the head of Citi Holdings, the group of businesses, including subprime lending and the Salomon Smith Barney brokerage division, that bank was looking to get rid of. As head of that division, Corbat helped the firm dispose of $500 billion of unwanted assets in a little over three years. At the beginning of this year, he took over the firm's Europe, Middle East and Africa opperations.
"Pandit put Corbat in charge of the bad bank and the sense is that he did a good job with it," says an executive recruiter who has worked with Citi.
Corbat is a Connecticut native. He is listed as the owner of a 4-bedroom, 1-and-a-half-bath, 3,500 square foot Manhattan apartment on Central Park West. The apartment has a fireplace and exposed wood beams in the living room. But Corbat doesn't appear to live there. According to the real estate website Streeteasy, the apartment was rented out in March for $33,000 a month. Corbat also owns a 6,300-square-foot house in Wilson, Wyoming. That house was estimated to be worth $3.7 million in 2010, according to real estate website Trulia.
Pay seems to be part of the reason for Pandit's department. Earlier this year, shareholders voted to reject a $15 million pay package for the Citi's former CEO. Corbat said he will take $1.5 million as a base salary, plus a bonus to be determined later.
Vikram Pandit's surprise departure from Citigroup.
FORTUNE -- Here's the lead from today's NY Post story on Citigroup's third quarter earnings:
After five years of languishing in the doghouse, Citigroup's boss, Vikram Pandit, may be enjoying a stint in the sun.
Maybe they meant he would be riding into the sunset...
Citi (C) this morning announced that Pandit has stepped down as CEO and a member of the Citi board, effective immediately. He will MOREDan Primack - Oct 16, 2012 8:23 AM ET
Revenue in a number of Citi's I-banking businesses plunge 40% and the possibility of layoffs is growing.
UPDATE 7/18 10:30 AM
FORTUNE -- Wall Streeters are probably happy to have the second quarter behind them. The question is whether the third will be any better.
More evidence for just how bad the investment banking business is emerged from Citigroup (C). Overall, the bank's profits, which Citi reported Monday morning, were better than expected. MOREStephen Gandel, senior editor - Jul 16, 2012 1:33 PM ET
In a first, a major bank may be forced by shareholders to cut the pay of its CEO.
FORTUNE - It took a 14,999,999% pay increase to finally put the "say on pay" regulations in the Dodd-Frank bank reform to the test on Wall Street.
Shareholders at Citigroup (C) on Tuesday voted against giving CEO Vikram Pandit a $15 million raise for 2011. He had made $1 the year before. It's the MOREStephen Gandel, senior editor - Apr 17, 2012 3:13 PM ET
Wall Street's bad bonus year did not extend to Citigroup's c-suite.
FORTUNE -- Vikram Pandit is officially no longer Citi's $1 man. Whether he should be a $15 million one is the question.
Yesterday, the bank disclosed that it paid its CEO nearly $14.9 million in cash and options in 2011. That was up from a dollar the year before. Back in 2009, Pandit said he would take a salary of $1 until MOREStephen Gandel, senior editor - Mar 9, 2012 4:58 PM ET
The message from our nation's financial elite is pretty clear: They just don't get it.
By John Cassidy, contributor
FORTUNE -- Just two months after taking over Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, Occupy Wall Street has mushroomed into a national movement, with offshoots in cities from Miami to Seattle. With winter coming on and some local police departments moving to clear out the demonstrators, it isn't clear where the protest goes from MORENov 4, 2011 5:00 AM ET
CEO Vikram Pandit discusses potential in emerging markets, the dark days of 2009 -- and his willingness to talk with Occupy Wall Street.
FORTUNE -- Next year, Citigroup will reach a historic milestone: its 200th birthday. That makes it one of the oldest banks in the country and, fittingly for an enterprise established two days before Congress declared war against the British in 1812, one that has survived many a crisis. In MOREOct 24, 2011 5:00 AM ET
Vikram Pandit believes the country is not headed back into a recession and he also has a message for Occupy Wall Street: I see your point.
FORTUNE -- Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit says we're not headed back into a downturn.
"I don't expect the U.S. to go into a recession," Pandit said Wednesday morning during a wide-ranging interview with Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer. "It may not grow as much as we MOREScott Cendrowski, writer-reporter - Oct 12, 2011 10:34 AM ET
Citi's CEO says he'd meet with Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Fortune this morning hosted a breakfast interview with Citigroup (C) CEO Vikram Pandit, who said that the bank will report continued profitability for Q3 and that it is on track to hit its own metrics for future success (shocking, I know). He also claims to have not watched the HBO adaptation of Too Big To Fail.
Near the end, Pandit was asked for MOREDan Primack - Oct 12, 2011 10:27 AM ET
By Sheridan Prasso, Contributing Editor
Typically given to platitudes about China, Pandit is now demanding openness (especially in the form of consumer pocketbooks)
FORTUNE -- It's rare that a sitting CEO of a top U.S. bank -- particularly one pushing China to abide by its WTO agreements while angling to let his firm compete freely in the Chinese market -- will speak out on China's currency controls and troubles with inflation. But Vikram MOREMay 13, 2011 11:48 AM ET
|Make $30 an hour, no bachelor's degree required|
|McDonald's gives Charles Ramsey free food for a year|
|Why doesn't Apple cut its prices and sell more iPhones?|
|Insanely durable smartphone ... from Caterpillar?|
|The 'chicken poop' credit and other bad tax breaks|