《TAIPEI TIMES》Citi to exit retail banking in markets across Asia, EU
By Kao Shih-ching / Staff reporter, with Bloomberg
Citigroup Inc plans to exit retail banking in 13 markets across Asia, and the region of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The bank would instead operate its consumer-banking franchise in both regions from four wealth centers in Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and London, it said yesterday in a statement.
The move is part of an ongoing review of the company’s strategy by chief executive officer Jane Fraser, who took over last month.
“This positions us to capture the strong growth and attractive returns the wealth-management business offers through these important hubs,” Fraser said.
Citigroup is to exit its consumer franchises in Taiwan, Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
The firm would continue to offer products in those markets to customers of its institutional clients group, which houses the private bank, cash-management arm, and investment-banking and trading businesses.
The withdrawal came as Citigroup reported record quarterly profit of US$7.94 billion, or US$3.62 per share, boosted by the flurry of blank-check companies it helped take public in the first quarter.
“While the other 13 markets have excellent businesses, we don’t have the scale we need to compete,” Fraser said. “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.”
Yesterday, the Financial Supervisory Commission said it has been informed by Citibank Taiwan Ltd （花旗台灣） about its parent company’s latest decision and that the bank would find a buyer for its consumer banking business in Taiwan.
Citibank Taiwan chairman Paulus Mok （莫兆鴻） told the commission that exiting Taiwan’s consumer banking market was a global strategy by its parent company and “had nothing to do with Taiwan’s business environment,” Banking Bureau Director-General Sherri Chuang （莊琇媛） said.
“It is not clear when the bank will sell its consumer banking business in Taiwan, but we will ensure that the rights of its clients, employees and consumers are protected,” Chuang said.
The bank might sell its consumer banking operations as a package, including the credit card business, wealth management business and the bank branches, she said.
The transaction could be similar to when Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd sold its retail and wealth management businesses to DBS Bank Ltd, she said, adding that a transaction would need the commission’s approval.
Citibank is currently the largest foreign bank in Taiwan in terms of credit card business, commission data showed.