ECONOMY

Big banks eyeing Citi’s network

The country’s major banks are eyeing the branch network and retail operations of Citibank in Greece in case the US bank decides to limit its presence in this country. Alpha Bank, National Bank, EFG Eurobank and Marfin Egnatia Bank are examining the pros and cons of that prospect and have approached Citigroup officials too. Piraeus Bank is also monitoring the situation but has not decided yet what policy to follow. Officials of local banks note that Citibank is a very interesting case as it has a relatively small network of branches which can painlessly be absorbed by a major domestic bank. The most attractive point though is the high quality of Citibank’s clientele. Today it has some 600,000 clients, most of whom belong to high-income brackets. Due to the huge losses of the parent group as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis, Citigroup is reviewing its international presence and in some cases liquidating its overseas assets. As far as Greece is concerned, it plans to limit its retail operations by selling off its mortgage loan portfolio or abandoning retail banking altogether and disposing of its network in the country.