Fed stress test rejected Citi's $8 billion buyback plan: WSJ

Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:10pm EDT

(Reuters) - Citigroup Inc (C.N) had sought approval for $8 billion in share repurchases as a part of the capital plan turned down by the Federal Reserve last month, the Wall Street Journal said, citing sources.

In March, the Fed gave glowing marks to most of the large banks, passing 15 out of 19 tested, but the central bank called out a few laggards, including Citigroup, forcing it and others to revise planned share buybacks and dividends.

That left analysts and investors asking if Citi CEO Vikram Pandit had been too aggressive in his proposal or if he had misunderstood how examiners would score its potential losses in a brutal economy.

According to the report published by the WSJ, the size of the request submitted by the company could have hurt Citigroup's chances of winning Fed approval.

Citigroup had not asked explicitly for a specific amount. Rather, the $8 billion size was based on a formula in which buybacks were to be made over a two-year period contingent upon the third-largest U.S. bank meeting certain targets, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Citing another set of unnamed sources, the paper said that under some circumstances the buybacks could have gone as high as $10 billion as per the plan.

The bank, however, did not ask the Fed to increase its quarterly dividend, the Journal reported.

The Federal Reserve was not immediately available for comment.

Citigroup shareholders gave a vote of no confidence this week to the bank's executive compensation plan on Tuesday, dealing a surprise embarrassment to Pandit.

(Reporting by Himank Sharma; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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