Bloomberg — Citigroup Inc. (C) Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser said an initial public offering of its Banamex unit is the best path for shareholders, following the bank’s abrupt decision to abandon a long-running sales process of the Mexican retail operations.
The decision doesn’t impact its plans to fully exit the franchise nor will it impact the bank’s medium-term guidance, Fraser said Friday at a conference hosted by AllianceBernstein Holding LP (EQH).
“This is a franchise that is accretive to our returns, so from a shareholder perspective, one of the dynamics that will be different from a sale is we don’t have the CTA hit up front,” Fraser said.
Last month, Citigroup shocked markets with its plan to halt a sale of the unit, which includes its consumer, small-business and middle-market banking divisions in Mexico. The company instead plans to sell shares of the unit in an IPO that’s expected to take place in 2025.
The decision allowed the US bank to restart stock buybacks this quarter. Fraser said on Friday those had begun in a “modest” fashion.
“It doesn’t change our medium-term guidance, it doesn’t change our decision to fully exit the franchise at all,” Fraser said. “As usual, we’re just getting on with it.”
Fraser’s comments were briefly interrupted by protesters and the webcast cut out for more than 15 minutes. A representative for Citigroup confirmed that the protests pertained to fossil fuels. When Fraser resumed, she said that it was imperative to make the bank’s business practices cleaner from a climate perspective.
Fraser declined to comment on how its sales and trading businesses will fare in the second quarter, but said there were some “green shoots” in its investment banking operations. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on Thursday warned investors of a sharp slowdown in its investment bank from the bumper gains a year ago. Goldman’s trading business is trending down more than 25% this quarter compared with the same period last year, President John Waldron said.
Since taking over in 2021, Fraser has sought to overhaul Citigroup’s strategy to focus on more profitable businesses like treasury services and wealth management. As part of those efforts, Citigroup announced it would exit more than a dozen retail bank units around the world.
For Fraser, the hope is that the moves will allow Citigroup’s returns to get more in line with peers. Citigroup’s returns have long lagged rivals like JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp.
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