American banking major Citigroup on Thursday said it will shutter retail banking operations in 13 countries including India and China. The 13 countries are Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
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The lender said it would exit its consumer businesses in 13 markets across the Asia and EMEA regions, as part of a broader strategic review under new chief executive officer Jane Fraser. As part of the move, Citi will divest those businesses in countries like Australia, China and India.
"While the other 13 markets have excellent businesses, we don't have the scale we need to compete," Fraser said in a statement.
Citigroup said its Institutional Clients Group will continue to offer services to clients and that it will continue to operate "wealth centers" in Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as London and the United Arab Emirates. It gave no time frame for the exits.
In India, the business comprises credit cards, retail banking, home loans and wealth management. The bank has 35 branches in the country and employs approximately 4,000 people in the consumer banking business.
Citi had entered India in 1902 and started the consumer banking business in 1985.
Apart from the institutional banking business, it will continue to focus on offshoring or global business support rendered from centres in Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai and Gurugram.
Ashu Khullar, CEO Citi India, said, "Citi has been a deeply imbedded institution in India and the sharpened strategy announced today will strengthen our ability to bring the full global power of Citi to our institutional clients, reinforcing our leading positions across Corporate, Commercial and Investment Banking, Treasury and Trade Solutions, as well as Markets and Securities Services."
"We will continue to deliver our innovative digital solutions, backed by our global network, and devote our resources to large and mid-sized Indian corporates and multinationals, financial institutions, start-ups in the new age sectors, amongst others. India is a strategic talent hub for Citi. We will continue to tap into the rich talent pool available here to continue to grow our five Citi Solution Centers which support our global footprint. There is no immediate change to our operations and no immediate impact to our colleagues as a result of this announcement. In the interim, we will continue to serve our clients with the same care, empathy and dedication that we do today," Khullar said.
Peter Babej, Asia Pacific CEO, said, "Asia Pacific is an integral part of our global strategy, and a key driver of our growth and value proposition. We will continue to invest in our network across the region and deliver Citi’s unique global capabilities to clients across all our markets."
The move is the latest step in Fraser's drive to simplify the once spread out Citigroup consumer business and improve shareholder returns.
Citigroup beat Wall Street analysts' first-quarter profit estimates on Thursday as its outlook for an economic recovery driven by vaccinations and government stimulus allowed it to release reserves set aside for loan losses from the pandemic.
Revenue fell 7 percent on low-interest rates and a 10 percent decline in loans, largely due to lower consumer credit card loan balances.
The bank's bottom line was bolstered by its decision to draw down $3.85 billion in reserves it had built up for expected loan losses from the pandemic. A year earlier it had added $4.88 billion to its loss reserves.
(With input from Reuters)