In a reversal of a plan announced early this year, Citibank now plans to retain its consumer banking operations in Colombia. With lower earnings due to devalued currency throughout the region and a desire to simplify the company’s operational structure, the company announced on February 19 its plan to sell its consumer banking segment in Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina.
This followed similar selloffs initiated in 2014 in Latin American markets including Peru and Costa Rica as Michael Corbat, who took over as Citigroup CEO in 2012, tried to cut costs and scale back operations.
But today’s announcement suggests that Citi may want to retain its retail banking for the long term in Colombia, a market that it first entered exactly 100 years ago in 1916.
“Citi has decided to suspend the sale process of the consumer banking and commercial banking of Citibank Colombia S.A. announced on February 19, 2016, keeping the mentioned business lines until further notice,” said the U.S.-based company in a statement. “Our operation in the country, a strategic market for Citi that already has 100 years of history, will continue normally, focused on continuing to deliver to clients excellent products and services of the financial market in the country and seeking to contribute with the progress of Colombia.”
The sale of its consumer banking business in Brazil already took place. It reached a deal on October 8 with Itaú Unibanco. The following day, it announced the sale of its consumer banking in Argentina to Banco Santander Rio.
It remains unclear whether Citigroup now believes Colombia is a better market for its consumer services going forward or it has simply been unable to find a buyer. It had always planned to retain its corporate banking segment in Colombia.
Photo Credit: Jeff Turner