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CIBC analyst got death threats on Citigroup - report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The analyst whose downgrade of Citigroup Inc sparked a broad stock market sell-off on Thursday said she has received several death threats stemming from her research, the Times of London said.

Meredith Whitney of CIBC World Markets Inc late Wednesday downgraded Citigroup to “sector underperformer,” saying the largest U.S. bank by assets might need to raise more than $30 billion of capital and cut its dividend.

Her downgrade triggered a 6.9 percent drop in Citigroup’s shares on Thursday, leading to declines of 362 points in the Dow Jones industrial average and 2.6 percent in the Standard & Poor’s 500, the biggest drop since August.

It also led to renewed calls for Citigroup Chief Executive Charles Prince to step down.

“People are scared to be negative, especially when a company has such a wide holding,” Whitney told the Times of London in an article published Saturday.

“Clients are not pleased with my call and I have had several death threats,” she continued. “But it was the most straightforward call I’ve made in my career and I am surprised my peer analysts have been resistant. It’s so straightforward, it’s indisputable.”

Whitney did not immediately return requests for comment on Sunday. In 2005 she married John “Bradshaw” Layfield, a former World Wrestling Entertainment champion. CIBC World Markets is part of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

Prince is expected to resign later Sunday at an emergency meeting of Citigroup’s board of directors, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times said.

His departure would follow significant losses at the bank from exposure to bad loans, mortgages and other debt. Citigroup’s market value has fallen below that of Bank of America Corp, the second-largest U.S. bank by assets.