Exclusive: Citigroup to shift European retail banking base to Dublin

Fri Jun 19, 2015 9:27am EDT
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By Tom Bergin and Simon Robinson

LONDON (Reuters) - Citigroup (C.N: Quote) is planning to shift the head office of its European retail banking operation to Dublin from London to benefit from lower costs and capital requirements.

This week the bank wrote to clients to say the UK-based business, Citibank International Limited, which operates a small number of branches across some 20 European countries, would be taken over by Dublin-based Citibank Europe Plc.

"From a strategic perspective for Citi, moving to a single pan-European bank is expected to reduce operational and regulatory complexity, capital requirements and cost," the company told clients.

Analysts said UK rules that require banks to hold a higher level of cash in reserve than other European countries do was likely to be a factor behind the move but that they did not expect to see a stream of other banks moving their headquarters from the UK.

A spokeswoman for the bank said the change in the retail bank's legal domicile and principal regulatory base would not involve job cuts and that the leadership of the European retail operation would continue to be based in London.

"The primary reason (for the move) is simplification, mirroring Citi’s strategy of creating a simpler, safer, stronger institution," she said.

Citigroup has been scaling back its retail operations in recent years and remains a small player in Europe.

Citibank International Ltd employed 4,600 people at the end of last year, filings show. Citibank Europe Plc employed 4,300 and currently focuses on providing transaction services to financial services and corporate clients.   Continued...

A view of the exterior of the Citibank Corporate headquarters in Manhattan, May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar