Citigroup plans to double outlets in China in three years: executive
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Citigroup (C.N) plans to double the number of outlets in China to 100 in the next three years, underlining its push into retail banking in the world's second-biggest economy.
While China's economic slowdown poses short-term challenges, the long-term outlook remains strong, Jonathan Larsen said in his first interview after taking up his current role as global head of retail banking in June.
Citigroup filled the position for the first time with an Asia-based banker, underscoring the bank's focus on the region. Citi's Asian retail business posted a profit of $2 billion in 2011, accounting for half of the bank's total regional profit.
Citi, which has 50 branches and sub-branches in 13 cities in China, said earlier this year it had received regulatory approval to issue credit cards in China, the first non-Asian bank to receive permission to do so.
"We've doubled in the last three years. We'd like to double again in the next three years, but the pace of growth is largely dictated by the speed at which we can get new branches approved by the regulators," Larsen, in Shanghai to mark the opening of Citi's latest sub-branch in the city, said on Tuesday.
He declined to say how much the bank planned to invest in China for the expansion.
About 40 foreign banks have locally incorporated units in China, allowing them to carry out yuan-related business, since 2007 when the first batch of banks were approved.
However, they have struggled to expand their businesses, hindered partly by the tight regulatory environment, with foreign banks' assets accounting for only around 2 percent of the total banking assets in China.
(Editing by Ryan Woo)
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