Citigroup sells China Guangfa stake for $3 bn

New York (AFP) –


US bank Citigroup announced Monday it would sell its 20 percent stake in China Guangfa Bank to China Life Insurance Company as it focuses on its own franchise in China.

Citigroup sold the stake to China Life for $3 billion, said a person close to the matter, confirming a figure in The Wall Street Journal. A Citigroup statement did not disclose the terms of the transaction.

The move marks a shift from Citigroup's strategy in 2006, when it successfully fended off a rival bid from France's Societe Generale and bought the China Guangfa stake for $620 million.

Citigroup continues to view China as "one of our highest priority markets around the world," said Francisco Aristeguieta, chief executive of Citi Asia Pacific, in the statement.

Citigroup locally incorporated in China in 2007 and now operates in 13 cities in the country.

"This transaction is consistent with the simplification of Citi and allows us to focus our resources in China on growing our core franchise further," Aristeguieta said.

"We employ more than 8,000 people in China and work closely with a targeted set of clients across both consumer and institutional banking."

Citigroup has cut back significantly in some other international markets. On February 19, it announced plans to sell consumer businesses in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, adding that it would focus on institutional and corporate clients in these markets.

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2016, following regulatory approvals.