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Citi to exit retail banking in Argentina, Brazil

Citigroup is planning to exit retail banking in Argentina and Brazil. The banking group has been operating in these two countries for more than 100 years. Citi has been scaling back its retail footprint to simplify the company, cut costs and boost returns. It had announced plans in October 2014 to drop consumer banking in 11 markets, including Peru, Costa Rica and four others in Central and South America. The bank will not be exiting any lines of business in the institutional division as part of the new moves. Citigroup, which gets more revenue from outside its home market than any of its U.S. competitors, operated branch networks in 24 countries as recently as September. The Argentina unit of the bank opened in 1914 and was the bank’s first non-U.S. branch. It has more than 2,700 employees in the country, 71 branches and 44.6 billion pesos ($3 billion) in assets. Argentina had sued Citigroup’s local unit after it reached an accord with a hedge fund allowing the bank to make two bond payments that the government said were illegal. In March, the firm said it would quit the custody business in the country after the government threatened to revoke its operating license. In Brazil, the bank had about 6000 employees as of 2014 and operates 71 branches after beginning operations in 1915.

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