Nine steps to Vikram

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It sounds like a children's game, but may actually be quite an important element of Citigroup's restructuring programme. The US bank is widely held to have a problem with too much middle management, and appears to have come up with a solution: no one should be more than nine steps away from Vikram Pandit on the organisational chart.

It's understood to be causing a degree of concern amongst Citigroup bankers working in areas of the bank where Vikram is about as proximate as Jupiter.

Citigroup didn't return calls on the subject. However, one insider said the scheme is more about bringing the customer closer to the CEO than eliminating unnecessary tiers of management: "We are not removing anyone who is more than nine steps from Vikram. That is a complete misinterpretation."

Citigroup has already cut 23,000 staff this year. Whether they came between Vikram and the people is hard to say.

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