December 10, 2014 / 2:51 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-SMBC nears deal to buy Citi's Japan retail businesses-sources

* SMBC to buy Citi’s Japan retail operations for about $330m - sources

* Agreement can be reached as early as next week - sources

* Citi also in talks to sell its Japan card unit with others - sources (Updates with source confirmation)

Dec 10 (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc is in the final stages of talks with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC) on the sale of its Japanese retail banking operations for about 40 billion yen ($334 million), sources with knowledge of the matter said.

An agreement between SMBC, a unit of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc, and Citigroup may be reached as early as next week, said the sources, declining to be identified as they were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly.

Bloomberg reported first the possible conclusion of the talks, citing people with knowledge of the matter. (bloom.bg/1yKLLBc)

Citi’s Japan consumer banking business has been hurt by weak loan demand and falling interest margins in a market where the U.S.-based lender has operated for over 100 years.

Reuters reported in November that four banks including SMBC were expected to participate in the second round of bidding for Citi’s consumer banking business in Japan.

SMBC is looking to acquire Citi’s retail deposits worth about 3.9 trillion yen, 1,500 employees and 32 branches in Japan, the sources told Reuters.

The two are also working on a deal to let Citi’s retail customers in Japan maintain their access to the U.S. bank’s global ATM network for at least two years after SMBC’s acquisition, the sources said.

Citigroup declined to comment. An SMBC spokesman also declined to comment.

Separately, Citi is in talks to sell its Japanese credit card business Diners Club, with bidders including Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc, the sources said, adding that Citi is unlikely to pick a buyer by the end of this year.

Officials at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust were not immediataly available for comment.

The third-largest U.S. bank said in October that it was pulling out of consumer banking in 11 markets, including Japan and Egypt, as it looks to cut high costs. ($1 = 119.79 yen) (Reporting by Taro Fuse and Taiga Uranaka in TOKYO, Neha Dimri in BENGALURU; Editing by Kirti Pandey, Don Sebastian and Ryan Woo)

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