Congratulations, U.S. taxpayers, said Karen Tumulty in Time online. “You are about to become the biggest shareholder in one of the country’s premier financial institutions,” Citigroup. The Treasury Department Friday took a 36 percent stake in the bank and will get a majority of board seats.
“Here’s the deal,” said Henry Blodget in Clusterstock. “You, the taxpayer, will be converting your dividend-paying Citigroup preferred stock into non-dividend paying Citigroup common stock.” And in a further “gift” to shareholders, you’re overpaying by about 30 percent for the common stock. Half of Citi's board gets fired, but that's “just a symbolic concession.”
The board takeover is actually a troubling development and a possible violation of shareholder rights, said Douglas McIntyre in 24/7 Wall Street. It’s also “insidious and clever” on the government’s part. If Treasury nationalized Citi, bondholders—including large insurance firms and pension funds—would take huge losses, triggering another round of bailouts.