Exclusive: Citigroup may exit consumer banking in more countries

Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:04am EST
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By David Henry

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc is looking to pull out of consumer banking in more countries in an effort to lower costs and boost profits, according to two people familiar with the matter.

In December, Citigroup said it was withdrawing from consumer banking in five countries - Pakistan, Paraguay, Romania, Turkey and Uruguay - as part of an expense reduction plan that will save $1.1 billion a year and eliminate 11,000 jobs. The cuts were one of Michael Corbat's first major steps as chief executive, a position he took in October.

"There is more on the list," said a source familiar with the situation.

The bank has been looking for months at countries, customer segments and products to cut, the source said, but declined to name any of the additional countries.

Sean Kevelighan, a Citigroup spokesman, said the bank is focused on major cities with the highest growth potential for its consumer business and will continue to invest in its franchise and optimize its assets.

Citigroup is one of the most international of U.S. banks, serving consumers in 40 countries out of the 100 in which it has some kind of presence.

Any cuts would likely represent a paring of the portfolio rather than a complete rethinking of the bank's commitment to global consumer banking.

Outside the United States, just three countries - Mexico, South Korea and Australia - account for half of the company's loans to consumers and the bank's presence in many other countries is tiny.   Continued...

People exit a Citibank branch in New York, October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford