Citigroup to sell Belgian consumer unit to French bank Credit Mutuel Nord Europe

Citigroup Inc. is selling its Belgian consumer business to French bank Credit Mutuel Nord Europe (CMNE) as the New York-based lender continues to hive off non-core operations.

Both banks did not disclose financial terms of the deal.

The sale, which is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012, will include the credit-card and consumer-loan business of Citigroup's domestic unit.

Citigroup has been operating in Belgium since 1919, and currently has more than 500,000 clients in the country and holds around 17 per cent of the market share in consumer loans and 10 per cent of the credit-card business.

"This fits perfectly in the CMNE group's strategy. It is clearly based on our pursuit of expansion, notably in northern France and in Belgium, which we consider as our second domestic market," said Eric Charpentier, director general of CMNE in a statement.

CMNE said the acquisition will allow the firm to diversify its product range and double its client base.

With this sale, Citigroup said it has reduced the assets within Citi Holdings by more than $582 billion since the peak in 2008's first quarter. The lender is also in talks with potential buyers for OneMain Financial, its consumer finance business.

Citigroup, which received $45 billion in bailouts funds from the US government during the global financial crisis, is also reducing its workforce and recently announced it will cut 4,500 jobs, or about 1.5 per cent of its global workforce of 267,000.