By Maria Aspan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc <C.N> can be more than just a survivor of the financial crisis, Chief Executive Vikram Pandit told shareholders on Thursday.
"We have come a long way and we continue to move forward," Pandit said at the bank's annual meeting in New York.
The third-largest U.S. bank by assets, on the brink of failure at the height of the financial crisis, has slowly recovered after getting three government bailouts.
As of December, Citigroup no longer counts the U.S. government as a shareholder. The bank now has five straight quarters of profitability behind it. On Monday it reported a first-quarter profit of $3.0 billion.
Pandit concluded his prepared remarks by thanking shareholders for their "support and patience." Only about 300 shareholders showed up to hear that thanks, filling about half of the ballroom in the New York Hilton.
Like its largest rivals, Citigroup has seen its revenues shrink even as its losses on bad loans subside. The banking industry is broadly struggling to grow amid a difficult trading environment and little consumer demand for new loans.
That environment is particularly difficult for Citigroup, which has yet to fully reinvent itself as a bank known for more than barely surviving the financial crisis.
Pandit has tried to reposition the bank for growth, shedding businesses and hiring staff to overhaul key units like the long-struggling U.S. consumer bank.
He is turning Citigroup increasingly abroad for growth, hoping the bank's large international presence can help it gain a foothold in emerging markets and compensate for its relatively small U.S. retail bank presence.
The bank's shares were down 4 cents to $4.52 in Thursday morning trade.
(Reporting by Maria Aspan; editing by John Wallace)