DBS, OCBC among potential bidders for Citi's Asia consumer business: Sources

DBS and OCBC are among the banks set to bid for parts of Citigroup's consumer business in Asia. PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Banks, including DBS Group, OCBC, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) 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 the media.

The move comes after Citi said 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 US$82 billion (S$108.9 billion) in total assets and were allocated US$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 appeal only 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, South-east 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, a unit of the country's top public lender State Bank of India, is also weighing a bid for the US 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 US$4.2 billion of the bank's US$74.3 billion revenue in 2020. All the markets it is exiting made a combined loss of US$40 million in the consumer banking business in the same year.

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