Four banks shortlisted for sale of Citi's Turkish retail unit: sources

ISTANBUL Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:18am EST

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Four local banks have been shortlisted in the sale of Citigroup's (C.N) retail banking business in Turkey and the deal is expected to close in late March or April, banking sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Turkey's Garanti Bank (GARAN.IS), Fibabanka, Denizbank (DENIZ.IS) and Odeabank, the Turkish unit of Lebanon's Audi Bank (AUDI.BY), were on the shortlist and their final bids had been placed, two of the sources said.

"The process will finish latest by the end of March, beginning of April," one source said.

Citigroup, the third-biggest U.S. bank, said early in December it would cut 11,000 jobs worldwide to save as much as $1.1 billion a year in costs and that the plan included selling or cutting back consumer operations in countries including Turkey.

Citi and Denizbank declined to comment. Odeabank and Garanti Bank were not immediately available to comment.

Two of the sources said Citi was considering splitting the loss-making Turkish retail banking unit and selling its loan book of around $4 billion, credit card business and branches separately.

But another source said the sale would be of a single entity including 30 branches, while Citi would keep 7 branches as well as its banking licence.

A senior Turkish banker told Reuters in December that Odeabank was interested in acquiring Citi's branches to expand in one of Europe's fastest-growing economies.

Citi has more than 2,000 staff in Turkey, where it opened its first branch in 1981. It launched consumer banking there in 1996 and in 2006 bought a 20 percent stake in Akbank, the country's largest private bank, but sold half that stake in May.

Citi's Turkish unit said on December 5 it was looking at the possible sale of its consumer banking business, leaving it to focus on corporate and commercial banking.

(Additional reporting by Dinesh Nair and Seda Sezer; Writing by Seda Sezer and Seltem Iyigun; Editing by Nick Tattersall)

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