Citigroup Selling Rural Bank Branches; Private Equity Unit

Jacob Harper  |

Investment bank Citigroup Inc. ($C) is shedding assets as they seek to reinvigorate reliable banking fundamentals, minimize risk, and appease federal regulators that are still concerned that the Big Four banks are still too prone to catastrophic failure .

On Aug 30, the bank announced they were looking to sell as many as 50 of their branches in rural Texas as they move their banking focus to the “world’s top 150 cities.” The rural units don’t generate the dependable revenue that larger cities do, and the bank appears to have permanently decided against servicing small-town customers in favor of strengthening their major city units, with Citigroup CFO John Gerspach going as far as to say,“You’re not going to see (Citigroup) opening up branches in Montana or Tennessee or places like that.”

The rural Texan branches, which hold some $2 billion in deposits, are expected to fetch around $50 million.

Citigroup took an even bigger step towards focusing on high-revenue banking in those top 150 world cities, announcing on Sept. 3 that they are selling their $7 billion emerging markets private equity unit to Rohatyn Group and thus removing their riskiest global investments from the ledger. Emerging markets have been battered as of late, and as an investment carry a high amount of risk.

In shedding the rural branch and private equity assets, Citigroup moves closer to complying with regulator’s insistence the bank does not become overleveraged and repeat earlier mistakes made as a result of being too large and overexposed. Five years later, the bank is still dealing with major fallout from the financial crisis, and remains under intense scrutiny from regulators.

On Aug 1 Citigroup settled with investors who alleged the bank hid billions in toxic assets from them in 2008 for $590 million. Following that settlement, and the series of asset sales designed to simplify operations, the bank appears to be trying to put their “too big to fail” past behind them – or at least convince regulators they are doing so.

Citigroup is up .38 percent to hit $49.56 a share.


(image of Citigroup Center in Belfast courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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