29th September 2021 - 2 min read
UOB Bank has been named as one of the potential bidders that are looking to acquire Citigroup Inc’s (Citi) consumer banking assets in Malaysia. Other banks that are also in the pursuit include Standard Chartered Bank and Hong Leong Bank, said several industry sources.
To note, Citi’s consumer business encompasses credit cards, wealth management, and mortgages. Of these, the main draw for potential bidders lies in the credit card segment as Citi is said to be the third largest credit card player in the Malaysian market. It is behind only Maybank and CIMB Bank. Acquisition of the business will give the successful bidder an immediate boost in the credit card space, helping them to better compete with other rival banks.
“The Malaysia asset is one of the highly sought-after ones. Binding bids are due at end-September, so basically, it’s [this] week. Citi’s wealth proposition in Malaysia is compelling and the credit card business is very attractive… that’s what most of the banks are after,” said a source familiar with the matter. Citi’s credit card receivables currently stands at RM4.5 billion.
This bidding has come about as a result of Citi’s exit from retail banking in Malaysia, along with various other markets across Asia and the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. Announced back in April 2021 as a part of an ongoing review of the bank’s strategy, a total of 13 markets were affected, including Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, and Australia. The chief executive officer of Citi, Jane Fraser had justified the move by saying that the bank lacked the scale that is needed to compete in these markets.
Sources have also noted that Citi would prefer to sell its Asian consumer assets to one bidder rather than as piecemeals. That said, this preference may be difficult to apply to some of the affected markets.
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