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I was reading this article by Forbes, and the structure of the first sentence confused me:

When Citigroup opened 2020, the most ambitious projects at the $2.2 trillion in assets lender involved major partnerships with technology companies best known for their internet, social media and ecommerce platforms.

I understand the meaning of the sentence as a whole, but not specifically the in assets lender part.

At first, I thought the most ambitious projects at the $2.2 trillions in assets is read as an explanatory phrase, and the subject of the next part would then be 'lender'. But, if it is the case, shouldn't there be a comma after the phrase and a 'the' before lender? Like this:

When Citigroup opened 2020, the most ambitious projects at the $2.2 trillion in assets, the lender involved major partnerships...

Another option would be to consider the most ambitious ... in assets lender combined as the subject. So, then the text should be read as

... [the most ambitious projects at the $2.2 trillion in assets lender] involved major partnerships with technology companies best known for their internet, social media and ecommerce platforms.

This case seems a bit strange to me and I don't get the meaning. Is "assets lender" a concept (in this context)? I searched but couldn't find any meaning for it.

So, what is the correct way of reading this text and its meaning?

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    That first sentence hasn't been properly proof-read, and it contains multiple errors. As a "minimal" change, a copy editor might suggest When Citigroup opened 2020, the most ambitious projects at the $2.2 trillion level in assets lending involved major partnerships with technology companies best known for their internet, social media and ecommerce platforms. But I'm not a copy editor - perhaps a real one would want to make further changes, since it doesn't look brilliant to me even after fixing the worst of the syntax errors. – FumbleFingers Jun 21 '20 at 16:44
  • I’m voting to close this question because it's asking us to explain the syntax / semantics of an invalid text. – FumbleFingers Jun 21 '20 at 16:46
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica well, as it was from a reputable site, I assumed it was correct and there was something that I was missing. But, if you think it has errors in the first place, then I guess my question becomes pointless. – Mahm00d Jun 21 '20 at 16:52
  • Indeed. To be honest, looking at it again I must say I don't much like the way it starts with When Citigroup opened 2020, the most ambitious projects [blah blah]. I'm guessing what the writer is referring to is their (Citigroup's) most ambitious projects. But that's decidedly "weird" phrasing compared to At the start of 2020, Citigroup's most ambitious projects [were this, that, and the other]. – FumbleFingers Jun 21 '20 at 17:13
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I think it's a poorly written sentence; it's difficult for even a native speaker to understand. But I think I know what the writer is trying to say.

Let me simplify the sentence slightly. The writer is saying:

When Citigroup opened 2020, the most ambitious projects at the lender involved major partnerships with technology companies best known for their internet, social media and ecommerce platforms.

(I'm guessing that "the lender" means Citigroup.)

However, the writer also wanted to mention that Citigroup has $2.2 trillion in assets. So instead of referring to Citigroup as "the lender", the writer called it "the $2.2 trillion in assets lender".

I think the sentence would have been much better if it had been written something like this:

When Citigroup opened 2020 with $2.2 trillion in assets, the most ambitious projects at the lender involved major partnerships with technology companies best known for their internet, social media and ecommerce platforms.

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  • Now I see it. So, "the $2.2 trillion in assets" is a compound adjective for the "lender" (Citigroup), correct? I have mostly seen these kinds of long adjective with hyphens between words ("a trillions-in-assets company"), that's why the structure here wasn't clear to me. – Mahm00d Jun 21 '20 at 21:18
  • @Mahm00d Yup, exactly right. – Tanner Swett Jun 21 '20 at 22:51

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