DBS, StanChart among potential bidders for Citi's Asia consumer business

FILE PHOTO: People walk past a Citibank branch in New York. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG: Banks including DBS Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), OCBC and Standard Chartered are set to bid for parts of Citigroup's consumer business in Asia, people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The sale process will start within a couple of weeks, the people added, declining to be named as they were not authorised to speak to media.

The move comes after Citi said that it would exit from its consumer franchises in 13 markets, 10 of which are in Asia, as it refocuses on its more lucrative institutional and wealth management businesses in these markets.

The businesses Citi is exiting had $82 billion in total assets and were allocated $7 billion in tangible common equity last year, Citi has said.

As Citi is not giving up its banking licences in most of these markets, the sale of the consumer banking portfolios and branches will only appeal to lenders with existing presence in these countries, the people said.

"Asia is critical to our firm's strategy, and we will allocate resources to drive profitable growth for our franchise," a Citi spokesman in Hong Kong said, declining to comment on the sale process.

Representatives at Japanese lender MUFG and StanChart, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, which the sources said was another potential bidder, declined to comment.

"DBS has always been open to exploring sensible bolt-on opportunities in markets where we have a consumer banking franchise (China, India, Indonesia and Taiwan)," the bank, Southeast Asia's biggest lender, said in a statement.

Citi's sprawling India consumer business, comprising retail deposits, mortgages and credit cards, as well as its Taiwan business would be among the most valuable parts of its Asian consumer portfolio, according to the sources.

DBS, the only big foreign bank with a fully owned Indian subsidiary, is eyeing Citi's India business, which is also set to attract StanChart, and local lenders Kotak Mahindra Bank and Axis Bank, they said.

SBI Cards and Payment Services Ltd, a unit of the country's top public lender State Bank of India, is also weighing a bid for the U.S. bank's credit card portfolio in India, two of the sources said.

Kotak Mahindra declined to comment. Axis Bank and SBI Cards did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Citi's consumer banking business in the 13 markets accounted for $4.2 billion of the bank's $74.3 billion revenue in 2020. All the markets it is exiting made a combined loss of $40 million in the consumer banking business in the same year. - Reuters

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Citi , DBS Group , MUFG , OCBC , StanChart , Citigroup


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