Citigroup Said to Seek Sale of 50 Branches in California

Citigroup Inc. (C) is seeking bidders for about 50 branches holding $3 billion in California as the third-largest U.S. lender pares brick-and-mortar outlets, said three people involved in the process.

The offices, located in rural areas from Sacramento to north of Los Angeles, could sell for more than $100 million, said the people, who asked for anonymity because the negotiations are confidential.

Citigroup had 384 branches in California holding close to $48 billion in deposits as of June 30, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It wants to keep its offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, the people said.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat is trimming outlets in the U.S. and abroad as the New York-based company focuses on what he has called the world’s top 150 cities. It sold 21 branches in Texas in December to BB&T Corp. Citigroup had more than 3,700 locations worldwide at year-end, with fewer than 1,000 in the U.S., according to its annual securities filing.

“We continue to rationalize our branch footprint in North America by reducing the number and size of our branches while concentrating our presence in major urban areas,” Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said on the company’s first-quarter earnings call.

Andrew Brent, a bank spokesman, said the bank doesn’t comment on market rumors.

Citigroup failed to find a buyer for 16 Nevada branches last year, people familiar with the matter said. Wells Fargo & Co., based in San Francisco, has the nation’s largest network with 6,175 retail banking offices as of Dec. 31.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Monks in New York at mmonks1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeffrey McCracken at jmccracken3@bloomberg.net Rick Green, Dan Reichl

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