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Citigroup Said to Seek $1.5 Billion for Latin America Banks

Citigroup Said to Seek $1.5 Billion for Latin America Banks

Posted by Juan Gavasa on March 09, 2015

Citigroup Inc., the U.S. bank that gets the most revenue from overseas markets, is close to selling its Central America retail units to Banco Popular Espanol SA and is seeking $1.5 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

The agreement would include the assumption of certain liabilities, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the details of the transaction aren’t public. The sale price probably will slightly exceed the units’ book value, the person said, adding the deal isn’t finalized and could change.

Citigroup is selling its retail operations in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama as Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat seeks to simplify the company and exit markets with poor returns. Madrid-based Banco Popular, the sixth-biggest lender in Spain, would edge out Grupo Aval Acciones y Valores SA, the Colombian banking group controlled by billionaire Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo, which also was trying to buy the businesses, a person familiar with the matter said last month.

Banco Popular, which last June agreed to acquire Citigroup’s retail-banking and credit-card business in Spain, is Citigroup’s top candidate because it would cut fewer employees, three people said last month.

Spokesmen for both banks declined to comment on a possible sale.

Citigroup said in October it would exit consumer banking in 11 countries that accounted for about $1.62 billion of revenue and $7 billion in loans in the 12 months ended Sept. 30. The five Latin American nations involved in the current talks were among those 11.

The bank joins competitors including HSBC Holdings Plc and ING Groep NV in selling overseas assets as the world’s biggest finance firms restructure following the financial crisis.

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