Citibank kicks off Australian retail bank sale, confirms CEO

A signboard of Citibank seen outside a building in Manhattan, New York. © Noodles73 |

US banking behemoth Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) has commenced the sale of its consumer banking business in Australia, a top official from the bank confirmed.

According to Citibank Australia CEO Marc Luet, the bank has received interest from several potential buyers for the vertical, as it “is an attractive and profitable business, employing highly skilled and dedicated team members”.

The move, however, is not going to impact the existing customers and the employees of the bank.

“There will be no change in the way Citi serves its consumer banking customers. Consumer operations will continue to operate as they do today,” he said, adding that the bank’s focus is on securing the “best possible outcome” for the employees and the customers.

What all does retail business include?

Operating a digital model, Citi’s Australian consumer business includes credit cards, loans, retail banking, wealth management for high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) and mortgages. This includes providing credit cards to some of the Australia’s leading brands, the bank said in a statement.

More than 99% of clients of Bank in Australia are coming through digital channels, it added.

In its earnings release on Thursday, Citibank said that it would be exiting consumer business from 13 countries across Asia and Pacific Rim -- Australia, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, and Vietnam.

“While the other 13 markets have excellent businesses, we don’t have the scale we need to compete. We believe our capital, investment dollars and other resources are better deployed against higher returning opportunities in wealth management and our institutional businesses in Asia,” Jane Fraser, Citibank’s Global CEO said in his earnings commentary.

At the close of US markets, the shares of Citigroup were trading 51 basis points (bps) lower at US$72.54 per share at New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

In Australia, all the major banks were trading in red at the time of filing this story - Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) was down 0.3% at AU$87.64; National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) was down 1.42% at AU$26.46; Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) quoted AU$25.18 a share, down 1.22%, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ASX:ANZ) was trading 0.83% down at AU$28.68 a share.

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