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Citigroup’s new stock-trading chief is slicing jobs in effort to revive the flagging enterprise

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A Citigroup Inc. trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Citigroup’s new global head of equities trading has cut at least three of his most senior U.S. trading personnel as the firm prepares for broader changes at the flagging business, CNBC has learned.

The bank yesterday informed Jim Everett, the bank’s head of North American high-touch trading, Jason Cuttler, who made derivatives recommendations for hedge funds and pensions, and Bill Power, a regional sales head out of Boston, that their positions were being eliminated, according to people with direct knowledge of the cuts.

All three were managing directors, the coveted top title on Wall Street that typically comes with the most responsibilities and biggest bonuses.

The moves are just the first steps that Fater Belbachir, who joined Citigroup from Barclays last month to jump-start the firm’s equities business, is expected to take. While it began this week with the most expensive American talent, cuts are expected to broaden to lower-ranked workers and spread to the bank’s Europe, Middle East and Africa operations, the people said.

Citigroup has the sixth-largest global equities trading business, a ranking that leaves them too small to deliver returns that help the overall company meet its performance targets.

For instance, in the second quarter, the bank saw equities trading revenue drop 3% to $770 million. At the same time, bigger rival JPMorgan Chase produced a 38% revenue boost to $2.38 billion.

“It’s been a problem area for Citigroup, which is why you’ve had so many leadership teams in the last couple of years,” said an industry insider who knows Belbachir. “This is Fater’s style. He’s known to be very cost-focused, very efficiency-focused. He was hired to do the same thing at Barclays.”

Citigroup spokeswoman Danielle Romero-Apsilos said that the reductions are part of the bank’s broader move to trim employees. The company is in the midst of “a limited number of staffing reductions” totaling less than 1% of the firm’s 204,000 workers, she said. The overall size of Citigroup should remain steady when factoring in hires, she added.

“We have made organizational changes  to our equities business over the last several months to capitalize on our investments in talent and technology,” Romero-Apsilos said in an e-mailed statement.

“The decision to eliminate even a single colleague role is very difficult, especially during these challenging times,” she said. “We will do our best to support each person, including offering the ability to apply for open roles in other parts of the firm and providing severance packages.”

Industry insiders expect that Belbachir, a JPMorgan veteran who spent less than a year at Barclays before agreeing to join Citigroup, will help the bank improve its margins in the equities business. He is credited with helping Barclays and JPMorgan make outsized profits by going long on volatility risk.  

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Katherine Clark