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Citigroup names Jane Fraser CEO, shattering Wall Street’s glass ceiling

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By February, one of Wall Street’s largest banks will finally have a female CEO.

Jane Fraser will take over the top role at Citigroup early next year, replacing retiring CEO Michael Corbat and shattering one of the most enduring glass ceilings in finance, the banking giant said on Thursday. Until now, no woman has ever run a major Wall Street bank—despite the ascendance of many qualified executives more than a decade ago, as Fortune‘s Claire Zillman reported last year.

By taking over Citigroup—the country’s fourth-largest bank, with $103 billion in annual revenue, and No. 31 on the 2020 Fortune 500—Fraser will definitively crash through that barrier. She will also join the relatively thin but growing ranks of women running all Fortune 500 companies. That number will be at 38 next week, when Linda Rendle takes over The Clorox Company; if nothing changes before February, Fraser will become the 39th woman running a Fortune 500 company, a new all-time high.

It is an expected, if unprecedented, transition: Last October, Corbat named Fraser as his number two and heir apparent, promoting her to president of Citigroup and head of its massive global consumer banking operations.

“I have worked with Jane for many years and am proud to have her succeed me. With her leadership, experience and values, I know she will make an outstanding CEO,” Corbat said in a statement Thursday.

Corbat became CEO in 2012, when Citigroup was still struggling to recover from near-failure during the 2008 crisis, and said Thursday he is “extremely proud of what we have accomplished in the past eight years. We completed our transformation from the financial crisis and emerged a simpler, safer and stronger institution.”

Citigroup chairman John C. Dugan also praised Fraser’s “deep experience across our lines of business and regions,” and said the board is “highly confident in her. Jane’s ability to think strategically and also operate a business are a unique combination that will serve our company well.”

Fraser has shown that ability across several business lines in her 16 years at Citi, where she oversaw the bank’s strategy and M&A during the crisis, then ran its private bank, and then overhauled its troubled mortgage unit as CEO of its U.S. commercial and consumer banking. Prior to becoming president and global consumer banking CEO last year, she ran Citi’s Latin American region for four years.

The Edinburgh native has spent 2020 overseeing many of the bank’s efforts to navigate the coronavirus pandemic and financial downturn. “People do look for leadership at a time like this. Being a woman has real power and strength to it,” Fraser told Fortune’s Zillman in May. “I can be much more vulnerable in certain areas; talking more about the human dimensions of this than some of my male colleagues feel comfortable [with], and I don’t feel that’s in any way soft or weaker.”

In a statement Thursday, Fraser said that her priorities for Citi are to “invest in our infrastructure, risk management and controls to ensure that we operate in a safe and sound manner and serve our clients and customers with excellence.” She was not immediately available for interviews, according to a Citigroup spokesperson.

The bank’s shares rose slightly in Thursday morning trading before slipping back.

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Maria Aspan

2020-09-10 11:06:55

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