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.
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.
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.