UOB-Citigroup acquisition to bring immediate 1.4 times income uplift: UOB GCFO

UOB deputy Chairman and CEO Wee Ee Cheong

KUALA LUMPUR: United Overseas Bank Ltd (UOB) expects its acquisition of Citigroup’s consumer banking businesses will immediately bring a 1.4 times uplift to income, said UOB group chief financial officer (GCFO) Lee Wai Fai.

"At the group level, we will see an immediate S$1 billion (S$1=RM3.11) incremental income uplift,” he said during a virtual briefing on the UOB-Citigroup proposed acquisition today.

UOB announced that its subsidiaries will acquire Citigroup’s consumer banking businesses, comprising unsecured and secured lending portfolios, wealth management and retail deposit businesses in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam for S$915 million.

Deputy chairman and chief executive officer, Wee Ee Cheong said the acquisition is expected to double UOB Groups’ in ASEAN-4 scale and accelerate the achievement of group retails by five years.

"As a long-term player, UOB has been disciplined, selective and patient in seeking the right opportunities to grow. We have been on the lookout all this while, even as we focus on organic growth.

"This acquisition is a great opportunity that comes at the right time. It is a transformational deal that will advance our position as a leading regional bank,” he said.

UOB group chief financial officer Lee Wai FaiUOB group chief financial officer Lee Wai Fai

Wee noted that the four markets had great growth potential, hence the acquisition was a great opportunity for the group to scale up at one go, doubling its retail franchise and propelling market leadership position, as well as accelerating growth targets by five years.

Combining Singapore and the region, the group would have a total customer base of slightly less than 10 million, which will give an opportunity to crop benefit for the whole region, he shared.

"Citi has been building the franchise for over 50 years, with best-in-class capabilities, people and processes.

"UOB has been investing in its regional infrastructure and team. When combined, we will have a diversified product mix with superior returns while maintaining portfolio resilience,” said Wee.

Timing-wise, he added, the COVID-19 crisis allows validation and resilience of the business and portfolio, for both UOB and Citi.

"We are glad that we are in a position of strength to do this deal, as our strong balance sheet allows us to seize this opportunity and put our capital to good use.

"We are expecting to have revenue synergies from scale benefits,” he commented.

Wee also highlighted that the major acquisition was the Thailand operations, considering the competitive market.

Citi’s portfolio in Thailand was quite disciplined with good quality, he explained, while Malaysia was a much smaller market with a decent portfolio with Vietnam presenting a good opportunity in long term.

"Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are our key markets which we are familiar with. Citi’s retail customer segments in these countries complement UOB’s.

"They will boost our existing base across the upper mass, emerging affluent and affluent segments,” he added. - Bernama

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