Australia: Citi Begins Withdrawal From Retail

Citi is divesting from underperforming markets to focus onwealth management and institutional and corporate banking.

National Australia Bank has agreed to buy Citi’s Australian consumer banking unit for $900 million, becoming the first sale in Citi’s retail exit from 13 markets across Asia Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

In April, Citi CEO Jane Fraser announced the closure of consumer banking units so that the bank could focus on wealth management and institutional services, being served from hubs in Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and London.

Global banks continue to face increasingly sophisticated local competition, says Carlton Hopper, managing director for the UK at GFT, an IT provider for the banking industry: “A global firm’s trading footprint—which products are sold in which markets—must be a key component of its strategy. The impact of regional regulatory requirements also plays a significant part, as these can vary significantly by territory and can either limit or enable digital banking.”

For Citi, this means divesting from underperforming markets to focus on areas that have the greatest scale and growth potential, namely: wealth management and institutional and corporate banking, noted Fraser.