Home / Companies / News /  Citigroup nears sale of Taiwan consumer-banking business

Citigroup Inc. is nearing a sale of its retail banking franchise in Taiwan to DBS Group Holdings Ltd. for around $2 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter, as the New York-based bank speeds up its strategic shift in Asia.

A deal with Singapore-based DBS could be announced before the end of this month, and it would include the transfer of all of Citigroup’s Taiwan consumer-banking staff, the person said. The U.S. bank’s Taiwan retail business includes 45 branches, mortgage lending and a large credit-card business.

Final details for the Taiwanese sale are under deliberation, and the transaction is likely to be valued at 50 billion to 60 billion New Taiwan dollars, or the equivalent of $1.8 billion to $2.2 billion, according to the person. That amount includes the net asset value of Citigroup’s operations as well as a premium for them.

The Taiwan business sale would be one of Citigroup’s largest disposals of a business in a single market in the Asia-Pacific and would move the American bank closer to its goal of focusing resources on its wealth-management and institutional-clients business in the region.

In April, Citigroup said it would exit retail operations in 13 markets, 10 of them in the Asia-Pacific region. Last week, it reached an agreement to sell consumer-banking franchises in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam to Singapore-based United Overseas Bank Ltd. for the equivalent of $3.7 billion. That followed earlier disposals in the Philippines and Australia to local banks.

Following these divestments, Citigroup will concentrate its consumer-banking and wealth-management businesses in four wealth hubs in Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Dubai.

Citigroup has long been the only American institution with a sizable retail-banking network across the Asia-Pacific region, in addition to a full-fledged institutional business that includes investment banking and corporate lending, as well as cash management and trade finance.

The bank has been overhauling its operations since Chief Executive Jane Fraser took the helm in February. Citigroup is in talks to sell its consumer franchises in five remaining markets in Asia, Europe and the Middle East: India, mainland China, Poland, Russia and Bahrain. Citigroup said earlier this month that it also would exit consumer, small-business and middle-market banking in Mexico as part of the continued “strategic refresh" under Ms. Fraser.

Citigroup’s first branch in Taiwan was set up in Taipei in 1965. Decades later, the U.S. bank accelerated its expansion on the island by acquiring a local rival, Bank of Overseas Chinese, in 2007, becoming the largest foreign bank in Taiwan by assets at the time. DBS, which is the largest of Singapore’s banks, has been expanding in Southeast Asia and North Asia, and has had a consumer-banking business in Taiwan for more than a decade.

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