Popular Ends Talks to Buy Citigroup’s Central American Units

Banco Popular Espanol SA, Spain’s sixth-largest lender, dropped out of talks to buy Citigroup Inc.’s consumer operations in Central America.

The lender is no longer in negotiations to acquire the business because it doesn’t fit with the Madrid-based bank’s strategy, said a Banco Popular spokesman, who asked not to be identified in line with company policy. Mark Costiglio, a Citigroup spokesman in New York, declined to comment.

Citigroup had been close to selling the operation to Banco Popular for about $1.5 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said on March 7.

Citigroup is divesting its consumer units in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama as part of a plan by Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat to simplify the company and exit markets where the bank has struggled to profit.

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