UK-based banking group HSBC has informed investors that it has no plans to buy Citigroup‘s retail banking operations in Mexico, Reuters has reported.

“No, we are not looking to acquire in Mexico,” HSBC Group CEO Noel Quinn said in a call with investors.

Quinn noted that the group’s Mexican operations are doing well and produced “returns on tangible equity last year of around about 13%.” 

Last month, US banking major Citi announced plans to pull the plug on its consumer, small business, and middle-market banking operations in Mexico.

Currently, HSBC is focusing on Asian operations and wealth management business, Quinn added.

The news comes after HSBC announced that its annual pre-tax profit more than doubled in 2021 to $18.9bn. 

“We have good momentum coming into 2022 and are confident that we can continue to execute against our strategy,” Quinn said at the announcement. 

As per analysts, Citi’s retail operations could be valued between $4bn and $8bn and may attract bids from international lenders and consortium of Mexican investors. 

Notably, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had urged business leaders to take over Citi’s assets up for sale and “Mexicanize” the bank.

Spanish lender Banco Santander, Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB de CV and Bank of Nova Scotia could also bid for Citi’s assets.

Citi is yet to decide the method and timing of the exit, which is subject to regulatory approval from both the US and Mexico.