The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has approved UnionBank of the Philippines’ acquisition of Citi’s retail banking business in the country.

The $908m deal, announced in December 2021, covers Citi’s credit card, unsecured lending, and investment businesses in the Philippines.

“Upon review of the findings and recommendation of the Mergers and Acquisitions Office and the Parties’ submissions, the Commission finds that the acquisition by UnionBank of assets of Citibank PH and Citi Square and shares in Citicorp will not likely result in a substantial lessening of competition,” the PCC said.

Upon the deal completion, there will be significant competition in the credit card, retail deposits, asset management and unsecured lending space, the competition watchdog noted.

UnionBank, which is owned by Aboitiz Group, operates in both commercial and retail banking spaces.

The regulatory approval follows UnionBank’s announcement to raise as much as $1.1bn by listing 800 million additional shares to fund the acquisition.

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Citi’s divesture is part of its plans to exit 13 retail banking markets across the Asia Pacific and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to focus on institutional banking business.

The US banking group’s exit will release nearly $7bn of allocated tangible common equity over time.

Earlier this week, Citi signed a deal with Ahli United Bank (AUB) to sell its consumer banking business in Bahrain.

Like the Philippines, Citi will retain its institutional business in Bahrain as well.