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Citigroup Chairman Wants Female Members

NEW YORK -- Citigroup chairman Sanford I. Weill offered his guarded support to the women's group pushing Augusta National to admit female members, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The newspaper said Citigroup sent a statement Friday to the National Council of Women's Organizations, making Weill the first corporate executive to openly favor the group's bid.
''(Weill) expressed his views to the Augusta National Golf Club and will continue to engage in what he hopes will be a constructive dialogue on this issue, toward an objective that he believes we share with your organization,'' Citigroup said in the statement signed by the company's director of public affairs. 'However, he respectfully intends to keep this dialogue private.''
Citigroup was a sponsor of the Masters, but was dropped along with IBM and Coca-Cola in August as the club tried to shield the companies from the controversy. Without sponsors, CBS' Masters coverage will be the only commercial-free telecast in sports.
Augusta National officials declined to comment to The Times on Weill's statement. Club chairman William 'Hootie' Johnson is recovering from heart surgery.
The newspaper reported that several Augusta National members, speaking on condition of anonymity, said other executives are pressing the club on the issue.
'There are maybe 20 members who feel that way, and a lot of them are highly motivated chief executives,'' The Times quoted a longtime club member as saying.
The friction began in June when NCWO chairwoman Martha Burk sent Johnson a letter urging him to invite women to join the Georgia club that opened in 1933.
Johnson has said the club has no exclusionary policies. While women often play at Augusta National, the club has not had a female member and an African-American did not join until 1990.
After issuing a three-sentence reply to Burk that said Augusta membership policies are private, Johnson blasted her intentions in a three-page statement to the media in which he said the club would not be 'bullied'' into taking a female member.