Citi to exit consumer banking business in India


2021-04-15 22:30:00

MUMBAI: Citibank, the largest foreign lender in India, has said that it will exit consumer business in the country as it does not have the scale required to compete.
The multinational bank has a host of consumer business in India, including credit cards, mortgages, and personal banking. The decision was conveyed by the bank’s global CEO Jane Fraser during the earnings conference for the first quarter where she announced exit from its consumer franchises in 13 countries.
Citi has operated in India since 1902 and despite having only 35 branches has a large market-leading franchise thanks to digital channels. “As a result of the ongoing refresh of our strategy, we have decided that we are going to double down on wealth. We will operate our consumer banking franchise in Asia and EMEA solely from four wealth centres, Singapore, Hong Kong, UAE and London,” said Fraser.
The other 12 markets that the bank will exit are: Australia, Bahrain, China, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

“While the other 13 markets have excellent businesses, we don’t have the scale we need to compete. We believe our capital, investment dollars and other resources are better deployed against higher returning opportunities in wealth management and our institutional businesses in Asia,” said Fraser.
Ashu Khullar, Citi India CEO said: “There is no immediate change to our operations and no immediate impact to our colleagues as a result of this announcement. In the interim, we will continue to serve our clients with the same care, empathy and dedication that we do today.”
While Fraser has announced the road map, the exit from India would require a clearance from the RBI as the central bank would need to approve the new buyer. Incidentally, the RBI had recently amended its norms allowing credit card companies to be part of the interbank payment system which means that a bank licence may not be mandatory to run a credit card business. Until now SBI Card — the only non-bank in the business — was the only exception as all other issuers including American Express are banks.
“Citi has been a deeply imbedded institution in India and the sharpened strategy announced today will strengthen our ability to bring the full global power of Citi to our institutional clients, reinforcing our leading positions across corporate, commercial and investment banking, treasury and trade solutions, as well as smarkets and securities Services,” said Khullar.
The sale of the card business in India could generate significant value for the bank. SBI Card has a market capitalisation of Rs 85,000 crore. In India, Citi serves 29 lakh retail customers with 12 lakh bank accounts and nearly 27 lakh credit cards with a 6% share of credit card spend with average card spends around 1.4 times higher than industry. It is also a market leader in wealth management with the largest assets under management among foreign banks.



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