Citi in ‘active dialogue’ to sell consumer business in Russia, CEO says

Jane Fraser, CEO of Citi, speaks at the 2022 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., May 2, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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NEW YORK, May 2 (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc (CN) is in “active dialogue” to complete the sale of its consumer business in Russia announced a year ago, chief executive Jane Fraser said on Monday.

“We’re selling our consumer and commercial banking franchise to the field, and we’re in active dialogue about that,” Fraser said in an interview with Bloomberg Television at the Milken Institute’s global conference.

Investors fear the sale is in limbo due to economic sanctions Western countries have imposed to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

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Fraser announced in April 2021 that Citi would divest its consumer business in Russia along with a dozen other consumer businesses in Asia and EMEA markets that it said were too small to keep. Citi has since found buyers for many of these companies.

Fraser also said in the interview that Citigroup will continue to serve multinationals in Russia as they need the bank to close their operations there.

“We’ve stopped soliciting new business, new clients. We’re clearly reducing our exposures, our business,” Fraser said. “But you’re sort of the captain who’s the last to leave the ship.”

Earlier in the day, Fraser told a panel discussion at the conference that Western countries’ use of sanctions as a weapon against Russia is prompting some of Citi’s international clients to explore new ways of doing business. and finance.

In the Middle East, Fraser said, “you hear customers there talking about how they don’t trust the western financial order to put all their eggs in that basket going forward, that they’re going look elsewhere.”

Fraser added: “You have to anticipate the breakup of the old world financial order, the acceleration of new sites.”

Citigroup is the most internationally diversified of the major US-based banks. It provides commercial finance to businesses and wealth management services to billionaires around the world.

“This militarization of financial services is a very, very big problem,” Fraser said. “This is likely to accelerate the recognition of emerging markets and the development of their domestic capital markets.”

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Reporting by David Henry in New York Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot

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