Citigroup to exit retail banking in Philippines

A general view of the Citibank headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia September 15, 2020. — REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

Citigroup, Inc. will leave its consumer banking business in 13 Asia-Pacific markets, including the Philippines, but continue to maintain a corporate banking presence.

“As a result of the ongoing refresh of our strategy, we have decided that we are going to double down on wealth. We will operate our consumer banking franchise in Asia and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) solely from four wealth centers, Singapore, Hong Kong, UAE (United Arab Emirates) and London,” Citi Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jane Fraser said in a statement on Thursday.

Apart from the Philippines, the banking giant is planning to exit its consumer banking businesses in Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. It will retain its institutional clients group within the affected countries.

“Asia Pacific is an integral part of our global strategy, and a key driver of our 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,” Citi Asia Pacific CEO Peter Babej said.

Citi set up shop in the Philippines in 1902. It currently has over 8,000 employees working in its corporate and retail banking units, and service centers in the country.

Citi Philippines CEO & Country Officer Aftab Ahmed said it will be business as usual in the meantime.

“There is no immediate change to our operations, and no immediate impact to our colleagues as a result of this announcement. In the interim, we will continue to serve our clients with the same care, empathy and dedication as we do today,” Mr. Ahmed said in the statement.

Citi’s first quarter income results showed revenues from Asia operations decreased 7% to $4.074 billion from $4.4 billion in the first three months of 2020.

Revenues from its global consumer banking in the region including some units in EMEA dropped 9% to $1.601 billion from $1.751 billion a year earlier.

“Asia global consumer banking revenues of $1.6 billion declined 9% on a reported basis and 12% in constant dollars, reflecting lower card revenues, as well as lower deposit spreads, partially offset by strong investments revenues and deposit growth,” Citi said. — L.W.T. Noble