Wednesday 28 Feb 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (April 15): Citigroup Inc (Citi) is exiting retail banking in Malaysia, alongside 12 other markets across two regions, Asia and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The move is part of an ongoing strategic review, under which its chief executive officer Jane Fraser said the group has "decided that we are going to double down on wealth", by directing investments and resources to the businesses where it has the greatest scale and growth potential.

This will see the bank focusing its consumer banking business in these two regions from four wealth centres in Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and London. "This positions us to capture the strong growth and attractive returns the wealth management business offers through these important hubs," Fraser said in a statement.

The affected businesses included consumer franchises in Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Its institutional clients group will continue to serve clients in these markets.

"While the other 13 markets have excellent businesses, we don’t have the scale we need 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. We will continue to update you on strategic decisions as we make them while we work to increase the returns we deliver to our shareholders,” Fraser added.

In Malaysia, where Citi has been in for more than six decades, Citi Malaysia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Usman Ahmed assured that the move will not dilute the group's long-term commitment to the country or the Asia Pacific region.

Citi has 10 branches in Malaysia — six in the Klang Valley, with one each in Johor and Melaka, and two in Penang, according to its website. Citi has been the financial adviser and transaction bank for some of Malaysia’s largest companies. The group, which has a workforce of over 5,000 employees in Malaysia, banks 85% of the top 20 largest market cap companies here, with over 650 multi-national corporates. In 2020, Citi raised over US$7.5 billion for its Malaysian clients.

“With this strategic repositioning, we will be able to further invest our resources in significantly growing our institutional business in Malaysia, which spans across corporate and investment banking, commercial banking, markets (including equity brokerage) and treasury and trade solutions.

"In addition, our Citi Solutions Centers in Kuala Lumpur and Penang also remain an equally important operations hub for Citi, from where we execute millions of financial transactions worth over US$29 trillion annually for over 50 countries across the globe. There is no immediate change to our operations and no immediate impact to our colleagues as a result of today’s announcement by Citi to pursue an exit from our Consumer Bank business in Malaysia. We will continue to serve our Consumer Banking customers with the same dedication as we do today,” Usman said.

Citi Asia Pacific CEO Peter Babej added that the Asia Pacific region is an integral part of the group's global strategy, and a key driver of its growth and value proposition. “We will continue to invest in our network across the region and deliver Citi’s unique global capabilities to clients across all our markets,” Babej added.

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Edited ByTan Choe Choe
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