Even for Citigroup, it was big money. On Wednesday, loan operations staff at the New York bank wired $900 million, seemingly on behalf of Revlon, to lenders of the troubled cosmetics giant controlled by billionaire Ron Perelman.
It was a mistake for the ages — a “clerical error,” as Citigroup told lenders —that’s now plunged the bank into a battle between the Perelman empire and a corps of sharp-edged investment funds that have become its impatient creditors.
One financier involved likened the surprise payment to finding a fortune on the sidewalk. And, as of late Friday, several hedge funds who claim Revlon was in default on the loan were showing no signs that they’ll be giving Citigroup its money back. The wayward transfer of nearly a billion dollars appears to be one of the biggest screw-ups on Wall Street in ages, and it’s set tongues wagging in financial markets.