BSP monitors Citigroup’s retail banking exit

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said it is closely monitoring developments on Citigroup’s planned exit in its retail banking business.

“Citigroup reported that it intends to focus its Global Consumer Bank presence in Asia (including the Philippines), Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) on wealth management and institutional businesses. As a result of this new strategy, Citigroup plans to exit from its retail banking business, which covers credit cards, personal loans, retail deposits and other consumer-related services,” the BSP said in a statement on Friday.

“Citi Philippines in its report to the BSP clarified that there will be no immediate change in its retail business operations and its retail customers shall be serviced in a business-as-usual manner until further notice,” it added.

Citi earlier announced it intends to pursue exits from its consumer franchises in 13 markets across the two regions.

The affected businesses include the consumer franchises in Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Its Institutional Clients Group, however, will continue to serve clients in these markets.

The global lender said its strategic actions in global consumer banking will allow it to direct investments and resources to the businesses where it has the greatest scale and growth potential.

“The BSP is coordinating with Citi Philippines to ensure a smooth transition, including putting in place appropriate mechanisms to timely respond to any queries and concerns of its depositors and other stakeholders,” the BSP said.

Meanwhile, East West Banking Corp. (EastWest Bank) said it is very interested to know more about the opportunities from Citibank’s exit.

“You know, the announcement triggered a lot of curiosity, of course now, because Citibank is among the biggest credit card issuers in the country. It also has a very significant retail wealth management business. These businesses are among the businesses, EastWest wants to grow,” said EastWest Chief Executive Officer Tony Moncupa during the bank’s Annual Stockholders Meeting on Friday.

“However, we don’t know enough details to give a categorical answer to the questions. We certainly are very interested to know more about your opportunity and see how it fits our strategic intent toward our GPS, that’s what we call our objective GPS, or our growth and profitability that is sustainable. So, we’ll see what happens. Let’s wait for the development,” Moncupa added.

Ayala-led Bank of the Philippine Islands earlier said it is eyeing to bid for the retail and consumer businesses of Citigroup Philippines.