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By Michael Breen | 02-03-2010 11:39 AM

How Berkowitz Got Comfortable with Citi

The Fairholme manager describes the thesis behind the fund's recent purchase of Citigroup stock.

Michael Breen: Speaking of mulligans, you just bought a firm that probably wish it had one for the past couple of years: Citigroup. Maybe you can let us know how you got comfortable with that, because a few years back, you were speaking about how you couldn't get transparency on the big banks and the financials.

So is it a case of the blind now being able to see, or have things been shored up to a point that anybody can get comfortable with it? Why don't you give us the thesis for Citigroup?

Bruce Berkowitz: I think it's a bit of both. In the U.S., this was not a bankruptcy, but it's gone through a scrubbing process, very similar to a bankruptcy, by the U.S. Treasury. Citigroup has spent a good amount of time with the U.S. government and many of its financial regulators, going through every liability and asset in the books.

After such a period of time, you normally are able to count the cockroaches. That is, the liabilities have been under a microscope for quite a period of time. There's been huge capital injections by the government. There's been a massive amount of dilution to old shareholders. And you're starting to see some stability, the beginnings.

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