Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc., the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets, said it will shutter almost half of its branches in Greece as European lawmakers continue a three-year struggle to fix the country’s economy.
The lender will reduce its branches to 21 from 37, according to an e-mailed statement today from Shannon Bell, a spokeswoman for New York-based Citigroup. About 170 employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closures, said a person familiar with the situation, who requested anonymity because the numbers aren’t public.
Wall Street firms are grappling with the European sovereign-debt crisis as policy makers across the continent attempt to find a solution to Greece’s fiscal woes. Citigroup, led by Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat, has been in Greece since 1964 and is the biggest foreign lender in the country, according to its website.
“Given the current business and economic environment, which requires adaptability, flexibility and decisive management, Citi Greece is proceeding to a rationalization of its branch network,” Bell said in the statement. “Citi Greece is supportive to the employees whose position is abolished as a result of this decision.”
Citigroup had about $1.2 billion of locally funded loans to Greek retail customers and small businesses at the end of September, according to a quarterly filing. The loans are in Citi Holdings, the division that contains about $171 billion of the bank’s unwanted assets. The lender also had a separate “net current funded exposure” of $1.3 billion to Greece, the filing shows.
The lender also plans to shut nine of its 31 branches in Massachusetts on March 15, according to Catherine Pulley, a Citigroup spokeswoman. The bank will keep a “significant branch network presence” in Boston, Pulley said in an e-mailed statement. She declined to say how many jobs will be affected.
“Like any business with a retail footprint, we are continually acting on opportunities to optimize our branch network, which includes opening, renovating, and in some instances closing or relocating branches,” Pulley said. “Boston remains a U.S. key market for Citibank.”
The Greece closures were reported earlier today by Reuters. Those in Massachusetts were reported by the Boston Globe.
Citigroup fell 0.6 percent to close at $35.77 in New York. The shares have risen 36 percent this year, compared with a 23 percent gain for the 24-company KBW Bank Index.
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