Citigroup Reduces Primerica Stake With $200 Million Sale

By Donal Griffin
Business Week Online, November 1, 2011

Citigroup Inc., the third-biggest U.S. bank, will reduce its stake in life insurer Primerica Inc. by about half as Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit continues to exit some of the its unwanted investments.

Primerica agreed to buy back 8.92 million shares held by New York-based Citigroup for $22.42 a share, or about $200 million, according to a statement. The buyback is expected to be completed by Nov. 15 and will reduce Citigroup’s stake to about 12.5 percent, the Duluth, Georgia-based insurer said. The bank held about 23 percent on Sept. 16, according to data collected by Bloomberg.

Pandit has been reducing the bank’s stake in Primerica since selling a portion in a March 2010 public offering. Pandit, 54, included the firm among more than $600 billion of businesses and assets he wanted to sell or wind down after Citigroup took a $45 billion bailout from taxpayers in 2008.

“The sale is consistent with our strategy to reduce non- core assets in Citi Holdings,” said Shannon Bell, a spokeswoman for Citigroup.

The bank will remain among Primerica’s largest shareholders. Warburg Pincus LLC held 22 percent as of July 1 and Ruane Cunniff & Goldfarb Inc. controlled 5 percent as of June 30, according to Bloomberg data.

Primerica fell 3.9 percent to $21.74 at 4:15 p.m. in New York trading. The shares have fallen 10 percent this year. Citigroup fell 7.7 percent to $29.17, bringing its decline for the year to 38 percent.