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Citadel's Griffin says he fantasizes about bank breakups

Kenneth C. Griffin, CEO of Citadel, takes part in a panel during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California April 27, 2015. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

By Lawrence Delevingne

BEVERLY HILLS (Reuters) - Billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin said he is encouraged by recent comments from U.S. officials that the government could move to break up the country's biggest banks.

"My fantasy is to break up the big banks," Griffin said on Monday at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills. "I wish we would end too big to fail in our banking system."

Griffin is the founder of Citadel LLC, a hedge fund firm, as well as Citadel Securities, a market-maker that competes against big Wall Street banks. He expressed his view on bank breakups in response to President Donald Trump saying on Monday that he is actively considering such a plan.

Other White House officials have said similar things, and some U.S. lawmakers are also supportive of bank breakups. The renewed chatter has created jitters on Wall Street, where banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co, Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc have argued that their size and diverse revenue streams are good not just for shareholders and customers but the broader financial system.

Sitting on a panel at the conference, Griffin said he is encouraged by Trump's agenda to reduce taxes and roll back regulations, and believes the president will eventually accomplish his goals despite a failure to do so during his first few months in office. His comments mirrored those of other attendees.

"There is a tone from the top that it is a new day in America," Griffin said. "It's 100 days - it's not much time. We have another four years of this administration."

(This story corrects third paragraph to show Citadel LLC is separate hedge fund firm from Citadel Securities, which competes against banks)

(Reporting by Lawrence Delevingne in Beverly Hills; Writing by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)