TOKYO: Citigroup is selling its century-old Japanese retail banking operations to major lender Sumitomo Mitsui to shrink its consumer business globally. Japanese news reports estimates the deal to be worth about 40 billion yen ($333 million). Under the agreement, Sumitomo unit SMBC Trust Bank would acquire Citibank Japan’s operations including 32 retail branches, 740,000 customers, 1,600 employees and deposits worth 2.5 trillion yen. The transaction is expected to be completed in late 2015. The US firm entered the Japanese market in 1902, one of the first foreign lenders to operate in the country. Since the US bank brought in a new chief in late 2012, it has been cutting retail operations in a host of countries, including Honduras, Turkey, Romania and Uruguay. In Japan, low interest rates, years of economic slump, have squeezed retail businesses. Two years ago, British giant HSBC withdrew from retail banking in Japan.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2014.
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