August 9, 2007 / 9:37 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Citigroup to sell Puerto Rico retail bank to Popular

(Adds details, paragraphs 2, 4-7)

NEW YORK, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc (C.N), the largest U.S. bank, will sell its Puerto Rico retail banking business to Popular Inc (BPOP.O), the parent of Banco Popular said on Thursday.

The Puerto Rico retail operations of Citibank include 17 banking offices, $1.1 billion of deposits, $230 million of loans, and about 230 employees, San Juan-based Popular said. Terms were not disclosed.

Richard Carrion, Popular’s chief executive, said the transaction is a step in the long-expected consolidation of financial services operations on the island.

Popular is Puerto Rico’s largest bank. Analysts have said the island has too many lenders, many of which have also struggled with deteriorating asset quality and a weak local economy.

At Citigroup, Chief Executive Charles Prince has been emphasizing international growth, where the company has made at least 10 acquisitions since October. The bank did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Popular expects the transaction to close in the fourth quarter, pending regulatory approval and other conditions. It expects to retain substantially all of the Citibank employees. Popular has more than 300 branches and offices in Puerto Rico, and more than 140 branches in the United States.

Citigroup Global Markets and the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, & Garrison LLP advised Citigroup on the transaction. The law firm Fiddler Gonzalez & Rodriguez PSC advised Popular.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel)

((Editing by Phil Berlowitz, Gary Hill; Reuters Messaging:, 646 223 6317)) Keywords: CITIGROUP POPULAR/

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