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Government to Take Larger Ownership Stake in Struggling Citigroup

The Treasury Department and Citigroup announced a new plan Friday in which the government will take ownership in a larger portion of the company's stock. Washington Post reporter Binaymin Applebaum explains the move.

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Call it Citigroup rescue attempt, take three. This time, the federal government — that is, U.S. taxpayers — will take a larger ownership stake in the company.

    First in October, and then again in November, the government made investments totaling $45 billion to prevent Citigroup's failure, but the company's fortunes and stock value have continued to decline.

    Today, the Treasury Department and Citi announced a new plan in which the government will convert up to $25 billion of its loan money into common stock. In effect, the government will now own up to 36 percent of the company, making it the largest shareholder.

    To walk us through this latest effort, I'm joined by Binyamin Appelbaum of the Washington Post.

    Welcome back.

  • BINYAMIN APPELBAUM, Washington Post:

    Thank you.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    This is actually a kind of restructuring of the package, right? But the key new thing here is the ownership stake?

  • BINYAMIN APPELBAUM:

    Yes, that's right. It's actually a really interesting transaction, in a sense. What happened is that Citigroup — all banks need capital, money and reserve against future losses, and Citigroup has been running very low on capital.

    So the government last fall gave them $45 billion that was designed to increase their capital. But because of the way the government gave it to them, most investors disregarded it. They basically said, "Doesn't look like capital to us, doesn't count."

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The way they gave it…

  • BINYAMIN APPELBAUM:

    Right.