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Turkey Denizbank CEO Says Working ‘Very Hard’ on Citigroup Deal

Denizbank AS, owned by Russia’s OAO Sberbank, said its offer to acquire Citigroup Inc.’s retail unit in Turkey will become clear next month, according to comments made today by the Turkish bank’s chief executive officer.

Both sides are working “very hard” to sign the deal, Denizbank CEO Hakan Ates told Turkey’s Anatolia News Agency today. Buying just the retail unit is a more difficult process than acquiring the entire Turkish operation, he said.

Citigroup said Dec. 5 it would sell or scale back consumer operations in Turkey, Pakistan, Romania, Uruguay and Paraguay as the New York-based bank cuts costs under new CEO Michael Corbat. It said commercial and corporate-banking services in Turkey will continue. Citi’s Turkish unit will focus on commercial and corporate banking, the unit said in an e-mailed statement.

Ates said he couldn’t disclose the price Denizbank offered. Citigroup’s retail unit in Turkey may be valued at about $270 million, a source familiar with the matter told Bloomberg on March 26, asking not to be identified as talks are private.

“We’re trying very hard not to have any job losses during the process,” Ates told Anatolia. The 1,600 staff employed in Citi’s retail unit would be maintained, he said.

Denizbank confirmed it was in talks to buy Citi’s Turkish retail operations in a statement to the Istanbul Stock Exchange on March 11. Denizbank shares gained 0.5 percent to 10.75 liras ($5.9) at 11:40 a.m. in Istanbul today.

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