Cowles had announced his intention to step down from the bank in September after a 39 year stint. David Livingstone, who is currently serving as Citi’s chief country officer for Australia and New Zealand, will relocate to London to lead the bank in Europe, Middle East and Africa, according to a memo sent to the staff.
The appointment has come at a crucial time for Citi, which like its rivals, is preparing its European operations for the UK’s impending departure from the EU trading bloc.
Brexit will bring a significant degree of change to the way UK-based banks serve their clients on the continent, with Citi already having taken steps to bolster its prescence in both Frankfurt and Dublin.
Cowles, who is one of the best-known names in UK banking, made the decision to step down as part of a wide range of changes at Citi that included the retirement of John Gerspach, chief financial officer.
Cowles was promoted to chief executive of Emea in January 2013 and oversaw a period of expansion during which Citi’s net profits in the region increased by 53% to $3.9bn.
He told Financial News last year that Citi had benefited from the retreat of its European rivals. “The US got into the crisis earlier, the banks hit the crisis earlier, the regulator had to respond earlier, and therefore we have come out earlier, whereas with Europe there was a delay in terms of that,” he had stated.
Cowles will now launch his own not-for-profit venture.
Mike Corbat, Citigroup’s chief executive, said: “We have made tremendous progress in the region under Jim’s direction, and I am confident that will continue under David’s leadership.”
Livingstone joined Citi in 2016 to lead its business in Australia, having previously worked at Credit Suisse, HSBC and Goldman Sachs. “Since joining Citi, he has done an excellent job leading our franchise in Australia, driving stronger partnership between our institutional and consumer businesses,” Corbat mentioned in the memo.
Citi has made a number of changes to its investment banking leadership over the past six months, including creating a new division called banking, capital markets and advisory that aims to bring its underwriting and M&A teams closer together.
The new-look division is led by Manolo Falco, Citi’s long-serving head of corporate and investment banking in Europe, and Tyler Dickson, formerly head of global capital markets. Ray McGuire, an ex-global head of corporate and investment banking, was made a vice-chair to manage senior client relationships.
In November, Citi announced that Philip Drury, head of the bank’s capital markets business in Emea since 2015, would take charge of the newly combined BCMA business in the region, taking over Falco’s previous position.