Citigroup Said in Exclusive Talks Over Brazil, Argentina Units

  • Itau said to be negotiating for Brazil retail business
  • Spain’s Santander said to be in exclusive talks for Argentina

Citigroup Inc. is in exclusive negotiations to sell its Brazil retail business to Itau Unibanco Holding SA and similar talks with Banco Santander SA are under way for its Argentina assets, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Both deals may be announced this month, three of the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. Representatives from Santander and Citigroup and their advisers are meeting in New York this week to finalize details, according to the people, who said the transaction could be as large as $300 million. The Brazil assets will probably sell for $350 million to $450 million, people have previously said.

Citigroup, which has maintained operations in Argentina and Brazil for more than 100 years, said in February it would sell its retail-banking and credit-card businesses in those countries as well as Colombia, while retaining the ones that serve institutional and corporate clients. A decision on what to do with the Colombia unit hasn’t been made yet, the people said. Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat has been shrinking the company’s retail footprint to simplify the firm, cut costs and boost returns.

Alexandra Ravinet, a Citigroup spokeswoman for Latin America based in Miami, declined to comment. Juan Cerruti, a spokesman for Santander in Buenos Aires, didn’t respond to requests for comment. A representative of Sao Paulo-based Itau declined to comment.

Valor previously reported that Itau had won the right to hold exclusive talks to buy Citigroup’s Brazil assets and that Santander was negotiating with the New York-based bank for the Argentina unit, citing people close to the situation.