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Citi in talks with other parties on retail unit sale

CITIGROUP, INC. is still in talks with financial institutions that are interested to acquire its retail business in the Philippines, an official said.

“There’s been plenty of speculation locally about which banks have bid for the asset, because it is obviously a fantastic asset. And there’s been a very broad range of buyers who are interested in the business,” James A. Griffiths, Citi Asia head for media relations, said in an online briefing on Tuesday.

“We plan to conclude this and will get deals announced by the second quarter or second half of 2022,” Mr. Griffiths said.

The global banking group announced in April that it will exit its consumer business in 13 Asia-Pacific markets including the Philippines. Meanwhile, it will continue to operate its corporate arm.

Mr. Griffiths declined to name the parties that have expressed interest in acquiring Citi’s retail portfolio, saying this is confidential.

“Our priority right now is to conclude this with the transaction that makes the best sense for both our people and for our clients. Conversations are continuing,” he said.

Top officials from lenders including BDO Unibank, Inc., Bank of the Philippine Islands and East West Banking Corp. have previously said they are interested in acquiring Citi’s local retail banking business.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has said it will monitor Citi’s exit plan and has been coordinating with the lender’s local unit for a smooth transition.

The regulator has also directed Citi Philippines to address client concerns regarding the impending exit.

Citi Philippines officials have said it will be business as usual for their credit card and bank account holders in the meantime.

Citibank, N.A. has total assets worth P352.975 billion as of end-June, making it the country’s 12th biggest lender, based on latest BSP data.

The lender’s presence in the Philippines dates back to 1902. It has over 8,000 employees across its corporate and retail businesses as well as in service centers. — L.W.T. Noble

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