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Citigroup moves ahead with leadership change

NEW YORK (AP) — Banking giant Citigroup is moving ahead with the closely watched change in its top leadership, announcing Tuesday that longtime CEO Sanford I. Weill will give up that post Oct. 1 in favor of designated successor Charles O. Prince.

The transition, which was first announced in July but whose exact timing was not set, will see Weill retain the job of chairman until 2006. Robert B. Willumstad, the company's president, will now take on the added title of chief operating officer.

"Moving ahead with the transition will enable the company to benefit from enhanced clarity of the management and reporting," Weill said in a news release. "And so, we've decided to complete the succession process now, rather than later in the year."

Weill, who is 70, has led Citigroup since 1998, when he merged his Travelers Group with its predecessor Citicorp. He is a legend in the financial services industry, and the July announcement ended months of speculation about who would replace him.

Prince, a 53-year-old lawyer, is a longtime confidant of Weill who was chosen last year to take the helm of Citigroup's Global Corporate and Investment Bank after a widespread industry scandal over biased stock research stained its Salomon Smith Barney unit.

His elevation will put him in charge of the nation's largest bank, one that has more than 200 million customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 260,000 people.

But Weill will not be disappearing, by any stretch. He noted in Tuesday's announcement that he looks forward to a new role "which will allow me to participate in a different way in the continued development of the company I love."

Willumstad said Weill's role will include strengthening ties with major customers and government officials around the world. The company said Weill will continue to hold at least 75 percent of the 22.3 million shares of Citigroup stock he now owns.