But possibly the bigger reason is just market oversaturation with bank stock. Since a number of large banks have been exiting the TARP recently by selling equity, investors have been flooded with bank stock. There's only so much equity from the financial sector that investors have an appetite for. They want their portfolios to remain reasonably diverse, and if they buy too much bank stock, then they might have a larger exposure to banking than they'd like.
As a result, Citi had some trouble. It initially hoped to sell the shares for more than the $3.15 it was forced to settle for. Earlier this month, the stock price exceeded $4. As I write this, it's trading for around $3.20, down more than 20% lower than that level, and 7% down on the day. At $3.15, that also amounts to around 6.5 billion more shares outstanding. If they sold for $4, the same amount of capital could have been raised by issuing around 1.4 billion fewer shares.
Here's a good chart via Bloomberg that shows just how much dilution Citi's stock has suffered from over the past six months:
I find this chart kind of incredible. It might be why Citi is relatively content with its equity offering. Citi's stock price today isn't far off its price in mid-June, when only a touch over 5 billion shares were outstanding. Now the number outstanding is approaching 30 billion, but the stock is selling for the same price. That means the firm's value has increased by a similar multiple as its shares over this period.
Of course, that also means all shareholders who owned Citi's stock back in June, and haven't purchased more, own a far smaller slice of the firm now. And that includes taxpayers. The Treasury's share went from 34% prior to this week's offering to 27% after.
Given the significant decline in Citi's stock price this week, it's not surprising that the Treasury has decided to wait to sell its shares. Now, it says it could hold onto its stake for up to a year.
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