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Major bank’s bombshell move could affect 1.8 million Aussies

·2-min read
NAB, Westpac, CommBank, ANZ logos, Australian cash.
NAB has confirmed it is considering purchasing Citi's Australian banking business. (Images: Getty).

The National Australia Bank has confirmed it is in discussions to buy Citi’s Australian consumer banking business, which was put up for sale earlier this year.

In a statement to the ASX, NAB said that while there is “no certainty” that it will complete the transaction, it said it “regularly assesses opportunities” to strengthen its growth strategy.

Citi has around 1.8 million customers in Australia and holds $5.5 billion in deposits and $6.6 billion in loans.

In April it said it wanted to sell its consumer business to pursue other growth opportunities in its investment banking arm. All up, Citigroup plans to exit 13 locations across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Citi closed its last bank branch in Australia in 2019.

ACCC raises competition concerns

NAB’s purchase of Citi’s consumer business could, however, trigger competition concerns, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) warning it would be monitoring transactions.

The ACCC issued the warning after NAB bought neo-bank 86 400 earlier this year.

It said that given Citi’s status as the fifth-largest credit card issuer in Australia, its purchase by another big bank would be of note.

"It's something we're going to take an extremely close interest in," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in April.

"Given the five main credit card providers are the big four plus Citigroup, there would certainly be competition concerns if one of the big four wanted to buy this Citigroup business."

He said the ACCC could consider blocking such a deal if it was found to be anti-competitive.

“Taking a decision to oppose a merger is always an option."

ING recently left the race to buy Citi’s business, while Macquarie Group is also reportedly eyeing a purchase.

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Image: Yahoo Finance
Image: Yahoo Finance
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