Citigroup to sell Argentinean consumer business to Banco Santander Rio

Citigroup yesterday struck a deal to sell its Argentinean consumer business in to Banco Santander Rio for an undisclosed sum.

The deal comes a day after the New York-based lender agreed to sell its Brazilian consumer business to Itaś Unibanco Holding SA for $220 million (See: Citigroup to sell consumer banking assets in Brazil to Itaś Unibanco).

The sale comprises around $1.4 billion in assets in Argentina and includes credit cards, personal loans and Citi Argentina's retail brokerage business, as well as deposit accounts.

Citi said that its consumer banking operations in Argentina, which has more than 1,300 clients, will continue to operate during course through the transition and Citi will continue serving its commercial banking and corporate and investment banking clients in the country.

"Argentina is one of Citi's most important markets in Latin America and its future is extraordinarily promising," said Jane Fraser, Citi Latin America CEO.

"We have been in Argentina for more than 100 years and are committed to supporting growth and progress in the country. We will continue to invest in and grow our market leading institutional franchise there as recently announced by our CEO Mike Corbat," she added.

Citi intends to focus on its services to Argentine corporations, financial institutions, and public sector clients, as well as continuing to service its multinational clients with operations in Argentina and its commercial banking clients.

Citi recently announced the extension of $3.5 billion of new credit for corporate and institutional clients in the country – including both multinationals based in Argentina and Argentine companies.

"We have been in Brazil for more than 100 years and we will continue to grow our market leading franchise serving our institutional and private bank clients, leveraging our global presence and generating better returns on our assets and capital for our shareholders," she added.

In late 2014, Citigroup announced that it was pulling out of consumer banking in 11 markets, as the US bank with the biggest international business, looked to cut persistently-high costs.

The third-largest US bank, built through a series of acquisitions spanning back to the 1980s, had been trying to scale down operations after the 2008 financial crisis in order to emerge as profitable as rivals and had shed hundreds of billions of dollars of bad assets in the process.

The latest exit is the result of studies the lender started in early 2012 to figure out which countries were not profitable enough for retail banking.