Two big, bailed-out banks send CEOs to Davos

Fri Jan 22, 2010 6:48pm EST
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By Steve Eder

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The CEOs of two major bailed-out U.S. banks plan to go to the World Economic Forum's schmoozefest at a glitzy ski resort in Davos, Switzerland.

Citigroup Inc's (C.N: Quote) Vikram Pandit and Bank of America Co's (BAC.N: Quote) Brian Moynihan are set to attend the annual gathering of business and political elites from January 27 to January 31, according to WEF official Kevin Steinberg.

Last year, all but one major U.S. bank CEO -- JPMorgan Chase & Co's (JPM.N: Quote) Jamie Dimon -- skipped the forum amid criticism from politicians over the role of the banks in the financial crisis and excesses at the top, including the size of bankers' bonuses and the use of private jets.

This year, a number of CEOs of major U.S. banks will be "no shows." Some communications experts say that being seen supping on kirsch and fondue in the Alps with other businessmen and the occasional Hollywood star is not the best image to project in a harsh economic climate.

Banks are facing another lashing from politicians and the public over super-sized compensation only a year since massive amounts of government money helped rescue the banking system.

On Thursday, in a response to still simmering public anger over the financial crisis, U.S. President Barack Obama proposed what may be the biggest overhaul of Wall Street since the 1930s -- including restrictions on the activities and size of the biggest banks.

In these times, it might look better for bank chiefs to have other plans than attending the daily apres ski in Davos.

"The last thing you want is to be seen doing anything other than working at your desk, growing your company," said Michael Robinson, a crisis communications consultant with Levick Strategic Communications.   Continued...

<p>New Bank of America Chief Executive Officer and President Brian Moynihan speaks with associates in Charlotte, North Carolina December 17, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Keane</p>