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Saudi prince tells Vikram Pandit: Deliver in 2010

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a major investor in Citigroup, says he personally told the banking giant’s Indian American chief executive Vikram Pandit that the honeymoon is over and he must deliver solid results in 2010.

“I don’t threaten those CEOs that I meet but I told him that really the market gave you two years leeway, but I think now its time to deliver and 2010 for him is really the year to make it or break it and he has to deliver,” Alwaleed said in an interview with FOX Business.

Alwaleed, who is the chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, said he met with Pandit who he says is “bullish” about the future.

“It’s very important for our…for the shareholders that have been very patient with Citibank that the honeymoon is over now; two years is enough and I think he will deliver in 2010,” Alwaleed said.

Asked about the White House’s proposed bank fee which would be levied for the next ten years on some of the banks that accepted loans as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Programme, Alwaleed said that he was against the tax.

“I believe taxing the banks right now is not the right time at all,” Alwaleed said. “It’s like you have a patient just coming out of ICU, intensive care unit, and all of a sudden bang him with another tax – I think it’s too much. It’s too early for that if it’s going to happen.”

Alwaleed also said he thinks the “worst” of the recession and financial crisis has ended, but voiced concern over what will happen when stimulus spending runs out.

“The question right now what happens when the stimulus stops and ends – would the economy of the United States be able to be on autopilot and go back to the era of pre-2007 when the recession and the downturn began?” Alwaleed said. “That’s the key question here.”

Commenting on China’s growth into a world power and economic powerhouse, he said, “China is a rising power.”

“For sure now China is amassing huge power economically, financially, not yet politically, but I think eventually its going to ask for this power to be translated to politics – no doubt about that.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])