Weill: Still pondering private equity

Citigroup chairman Sandy Weill has ‘not made up his mind’ as to whether he will leave the bank and start a private equity firm, according to a memo sent to Citigroup employees.

Sandy Weill, the Citigroup chairman who reportedly is attempting to leave the bank and start a $5 billion private equity fund, has “not made up his mind” about the move, according to Citigroup chief executive officer Chuck Prince.

Prince made this statement in a memo sent to all employees of Citigroup, the largest financial services company in the world.

The note reads in part: “[Weill] has expressed interest in the private equity area, but has personally told me he has not made up his mind whether to try to pursue such an activity or not. If he does go ahead, we would ensure that any transition is done in an orderly way and in the best interest of the company.”

Prince wrote that he was responding to employee “concern” that Weill was planning to exit his role as chairman to start “an investment fund.”

According to a Monday CNBC report, Weill, who is under contract at Citigroup until April 2006, is planning to step down early to begin the new venture. Citigroup responded to the rumours with a statement that he was not, in fact, leaving the firm.

A Wall Street Journal report stated that Weill has clashed with some board members over terms of his retirement, including his desire to continue enjoying some Citigroup executive perks after he steps down.

The channel also reported that Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men and Citigroup’s largest individual investor, planned to invest in the LBO fund started by Weill.

Alwaleed is worth an estimated $24 billion. He recently entered into a joint-venture with HSBC Holdings to invest $400 million in sub-Saharan Africa. Until recently, his hotel assets included the Plaza Hotel in New York City.