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“Private” Investors in Citigroup

By Matthew Yglesias on February 22, 2009 at 9:04 pm

"“Private” Investors in Citigroup"

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From a Wall Street Journal article on possible plans for a larger federal ownership stake in Citigroup:

Under the scenario being considered, a substantial chunk of the $45 billion in preferred shares held by the government would convert into common stock, people familiar with the matter said. The government obtained those shares, equivalent to a 7.8% stake, in return for pumping capital into Citigroup.

The move wouldn’t cost taxpayers additional money, but other Citigroup shareholders would see their shares diluted. A larger ownership stake by the federal government could fuel speculation that other troubled banks will line up for similar agreements. [...] As part of the plan, Citigroup officials hope to persuade private investors that have bought preferred shares — such as the Government of Singapore Investment Corp., Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Kuwait Investment Authority — to follow the government’s lead in converting some of those stakes into common stock, according to people familiar with the matter. That would further bolster an obscure but increasingly pivotal measure of banks’ capital known as “tangible common equity,” or TCE.

Words like “Government of” and “Authority” when paired with the names of countries are usually indications that we’re dealing with government entities, not private ones. The upshot of this would be to turn Citigroup into a company that was, in essence, jointly owned by a few different governments.

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