Citigroup Inc, which has been shedding some of its retail operations as part of a global revamp, is in advanced talks with Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控) for a sale of its China consumer business, people familiar with the matter said.
Taipei-based Fubon has emerged as the likeliest buyer after outbidding rivals, and the two lenders are negotiating the terms of a potential transaction, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.
They are aiming to sign an agreement in the next few weeks and the assets could be valued at about US$1.5 billion, the people said.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
A deal would help Fubon bolster its foothold in China, where it acquired a controlling stake in Shanghai-based First Sino Bank (華一銀行) in 2014 and later changed its name to Fubon Bank China (富邦華一銀行).
Fubon is Taiwan’s second-biggest financial holding company by assets.
Discussions are still ongoing and no final decision has been made, the people said, adding that Citigroup could still decide to enter talks with other bidders if talks with Fubon do not lead to an agreement.
Representatives for Citigroup and Fubon declined to comment.
The China assets sale is part of Citigroup chief executive officer Jane Fraser’s business restructuring that has sought to dispose of retail banking operations in 13 countries across Asia and Europe.
The lender is focusing on building out its burgeoning wealth management arm instead.
Earlier this month, the firm announced that it would exit its consumer, small-business and middle-market banking businesses in Mexico.
Last week, Citigroup agreed to sell consumer banking businesses in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam to United Overseas Bank Ltd (大華銀行) for about S$4.9 billion (US$3.6 billion).
The disposal followed the sale of its assets in the Philippines to Union Bank of the Philippines for a cash consideration plus a premium of about US$904 million last month.
On Sunday, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported that Citigroup would sell its consumer banking business in Taiwan to DBS Bank Taiwan (星展台灣), the local unit of Singapore-based DBS Group Holdings Ltd, for NT$60 billion (US$2.17 billion).
DBS Taiwan and Citibank Taiwan Ltd (花旗台灣) declined to confirm the report on Monday.
Additional reporting by Kao Shih-ching
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