TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Citigroup Inc. said Thursday (April 15) that it is planning to exit consumer banking in 13 markets across Eastern Europe and Asia, including Taiwan.
As part of its global reorganization, the American multinational banking giant announced in a statement that it will sell off its retail businesses in Taiwan, Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Poland, and Russia.
The decision was made to make it more competitive globally by offloading its consumer franchises in underperforming markets, the company explained. It said it would instead operate its consumer banking franchises in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East solely from four wealth centers: Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, and London.
Although the exact timetable for the exit has yet to be set, Citigroup said it will develop detailed plans and consult with the board of directors and regulators.
The company's CEO Jane Fraser, who assumed the position in March, said the company does not have the scale needed to compete in the 13 markets it plans on exiting. She stressed that Citigroup's priority is "closing the return gap" with its competitors.
Meanwhile, Citibank Taiwan emphasized that the withdrawal will not affect the company's long-term commitment to Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific region. It said it would continue to offer products to its institutional clients in the country across corporate and investment banking, commercial banking, and financial marketing as well as treasury and trade solutions.
Citibank Taiwan Chairman Paulus Mok (莫兆鴻) said the company has performed well during its nearly 60 years of operation in the country. He said its priority is supporting all clients and transitioning the franchise toward sustainable growth and improvement.
Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) said the bank would search for a buyer for its consumer banking operations. It also promised to ensure the rights of all clients and employees of the company.
According to FSC data, Citibank is the largest foreign bank in Taiwan. It established its first representative office in the country in 1964 and opened its first branch in Taipei in 1965.