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December 21, 2021

Axis Bank leads race to buy Citi’s Indian retail business 

Indian private lender Axis Bank has reportedly emerged as the frontrunner to acquire Citi’s retail banking business in the country.

Axis Bank could sign an all-cash deal valuing the units for sale at around $2bn, CNBC-TV18 reported citing sources familiar with the matter.

Kotak Mahindra Bank and IndusInd Bank have also placed bids for Citi’s operations.

“Kotak Mahindra Bank was widely expected to be the top contender, but Axis Bank came with a better offer,” a source told the publication.

“We continue to move forward with our process with respect to our India consumer business sale in accordance with our broader strategic refresh,” Citi India’s spokesperson said in an email.

The business up for sale caters to over 2.5 million retail customers. As of October 2021, it had 1.2 million bank accounts and 2.58 million credit card accounts.

Citi is a key player in the Indian credit card market with a nearly 4% market share. As per the Reserve Bank of India’s data, Axis Bank holds the fourth position as a credit card issuer in the country.

The divesture of part of Citi’s plan to exit 13 retail banking markets to focus on investment banking.

Citi will focus only on four retail markets outside the US, which include Singapore, Hong Kong, the UAE, and London.

Earlier this month, Union Bank of the Philippines announced that it is in talks with the US banking giant to acquire its retail banking operations in the country.

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