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Citigroup's retail bank to leave Australia

Eliza Bavin
·2-min read
Citibank sign and logo in front of the bank in Mongkok, Hong Kong, with reflection of financial buildings. Citibank is a major international bank. It is the consumer banking arm of financial services giant Citigroup, which is the third largest bank holding company in the United States by total assets, after Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase.
(Source: Getty)

Citigroup has announced plans to close its Australian business, leaving as many as 1.8 million customers in the lurch.

The new chief executive of Citigoup Jane Fraser announced on Thursday a turnaround strategy that involves swiftly exiting the Australian consumer banking market.

The bank said it will leave 13 locations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, including Australia.

Fraser said in Australia and China, Citigroup simply doesn't have the scale 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," she said in a statement.

Despite this, Fraser said Citigroup will still operate wealth centres for high-net-worth individuals in Singapore and Hong Kong as well as London and the United Arab Emirates.

Fraser said the group’s Institutional Clients, which includes capital markets, commercial banking and private banking, will be unaffected.

No timeframe was been provided for the exits but Fraser told analysts there would be "no dilly-dallying" on moving forward with the plan.

The announcement was made as Citigroup reported US$7.94 billion in profit, triple the $2.54 billion it made a year earlier.

Citi launched its retail banking operations in Australia 1985 after being the first foreign bank granted a domestic banking licence.

It has 1.8 million customers in Australia and has managed to compete rather well with the big four - CBA, Westpac, ANZ and NAB.

Citigroup’s consumer banking business is now on the market and open to potential takeover opportunities.

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