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Citigroup Weighs Exiting Japan Retail Banking, NHK Says

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Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc., the bank that gets the most international revenue of any U.S. competitor, is considering exiting consumer banking in Japan and transferring branches to another lender, NHK reported.

The bank is reviewing its options as low interest rates crimp profits, public broadcaster NHK reported on its website, without citing anyone. The New York-based lender has already contacted large Japanese banks about transferring branches, NHK said.

Citigroup, whose 33 branches in Japan represent less than 1 percent of its global total, has pulled back from retail banking in markets with low returns, including Spain, Greece and Turkey. Citibank Japan Ltd. earned 1.34 billion yen ($13 million) in the year ended March 31, according to financial statements on the unit’s website.

Citigroup exited the Japanese retail brokerage business in 2009, selling its Nikko Cordial Securities Inc. unit and part of its investment-banking business to Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. Citigroup would continue corporate banking in the world’s third-biggest economy, NHK reported.

Mark Costiglio, a bank spokesman, declined to comment on the report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dakin Campbell in New York at dcampbell27@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Eichenbaum at peichenbaum@bloomberg.net Steven Crabill

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