Citibank reportedly seeking investment banking licences in China

Report follows New York bank’s decision to close down its retail business in Asia’s biggest markets

Citibank reportedly seeking investment banking licences in China
Citibank is to leave Asia’s retail banking arena. Photo: Reuters 

(ATF) Days after Citibank announced the jettisoning of its retail banking business in Asia’s largest market, a report says the lender wants to set up investment banking and trading operations in China.

The US-based bank is seeking licences to “underwrite yuan-denominated shares and conduct trading for clients, as well as a license for futures brokering within the next two months” in China, Bloomberg reported, citing a source.

The report said a chief executive was being lined up and eventually 100 people will be hired.

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Citibank is among foreign banks hoping to cash in on the opening up of China’s capital markets to overseas finance. Until recently foreign companies needed to form joint-ventures with domestic firms to operate in the country. But those rules have been relaxed and now some of the biggest names on Wall Street – including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs are hoping to get a handle into the market.

Last week Citibank said it would exit consumer markets in China, India and 11 other mostly Asian markets as it reported a sharp rise in global earnings.

The move was explained as part of a desire to “double down” on wealth management in the country. A Wealth Connect initiative, like the Stocks and Bonds Connect schemes before it, is hoped to link onshore and offshore trading and boost China’s fund-management businesses.

Citigroup will focus its Asian consumer banking business on Singapore and Hong Kong, according to a spokeswoman, who added that the UK and the United Arab Emirates would be the other global hubs. 

Citigroup's global consumer banking business at the end of 2020 had $6.5 billion in revenue and $123.9bn in deposits. The bank has about 200 branches in Asia.

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