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Citigroup's Asian Retail Banking Spinoffs Could Fetch Up To $6 Billion - Report

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, 26 April 2021

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Citigroup is combining its private bank - which serves people with more than $25 million of assets - and a wealth management business serving those with up to $10 million. And the bank is now pivoting more towards the Asian wealth segment.

Citigroup could fetch as much as $6 billion by selling its retail banking assets in 13 markets across the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the Middle East. The US bank is pivoting towards more wealth management business, particularly in Asia.

The sale process for Australia is the most advanced - the preliminary interest for many of the assets has come mainly from local players, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources. Exits from other markets, such as Southeast Asia and Poland, are at an earlier stage, the report said. The entire sales process is in its early stages, and the timeline and valuations could still change, it continued. 

As reported here earlier in April, the bank is planning to exit retail banking in Asia and shift towards the wealth sector. 

The report noted that Citigroup ultimately plans to exit retail-banking operations in Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The 13 markets contributed $4.2 billion in revenue in 2020, Citigroup told investors last week. Still, that eroded operating expenses and provisions for credit losses, which left the combined units without a profit for the year.

Instead, after the exits, Citigroup will operate its consumer-banking franchise in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East and Africa from four wealth centres in Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and London.

In Asia, banks such as Singapore’s DBS and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. may be interested in buying multiple parts of Citigroup’s operations in the markets where they already have banking licences, the report added.

Today, Fitch Ratings said it will review its outlook on the US bank because of the planned changes.

"The planned divestitures are relevant to our assessment of Citi's long-term blended operating environment, which has a significant influence on Citi's rating. The Rating Outlook was revised to Negative from Stable in April 2020, partly due to downward assessments of certain international operating environments within Citi's footprint. Accordingly, additional review of the potential impact of these exits is necessary in order to resolve Citi's Rating Outlook. As of fourth-quarter 2020 (4Q20), approximately 39% of Citi's total credit exposure was outside the United States," Fitch said.

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