The top executive at Citigroup met with 1,700 workers at its bank credit card processing center in Las Vegas on Tuesday morning to show the company's commitment to its local operations, outline the company's progress and hear from workers.
"We plan to be here," CEO Vikram Pandit said in a meeting with the Review-Journal. "I believe we'll be very confident with the presence we have here."
The credit card operation expects to lay off 75 employees in Las Vegas by year's end, but Citibank has hired 250 employees to support its mortgage business, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The company hired workers in mortgage underwriting, closing and processing. Some openings remain.
Citibank has operated the credit card facility in Las Vegas since 1983 when it took over a failing institution. It also has 1,900 employees in Nevada, including staff at 15 bank branches.
Asked about the prospect of acquiring other banks in Nevada, Pandit said the bank holding company is "always open to see what makes sense."
Citibank's primary strategy calls for using the branches it now has and to expand its customer interactions on the Internet, Pandit said.
He pointed out that Las Vegas is becoming a more important destination for foreign visitors, thanks in part to British Airways' new flights here.
"You should know that we are very strong around the world as a bank," he said.
He also shared thoughts on the near-collapse of the U.S. financial system a year ago.
"Since then, we have built back confidence very nicely," he said.
Government programs, including the "Cash for Clunkers" rebates and tax credits for first-time homebuyers, have helped restore stability, he said.
"In order to have recovery, you have to have stability first," he said. "We all ought to have a lot of confidence in the Federal Reserve Board and the chairman."
He acknowledged there will probably be future problems with the ballooning federal deficit. "The deficit is definitely going to have to be worked on over the next few years here," he said. "Our belief is inflation is a little bit down the road."
While Pandit acknowledged the importance of free markets for allocating resources, he said, "good regulation makes for better markets."
Part of the financial industry's problems stemmed from unregulated "shadow banking" entities outside of the banking system, he said.
Breaking up banks that are "too large to fail" isn't the solution, he said.
Citigroup is selling businesses outside its core operations, but he said large corporations and institutions are needed, such as stock and commodity exchanges. "There are going to be large financial institutions, because of the function they serve."
Contact reporter John G. Edwards at email@example.com or 702-383-0420.