Citigroup Inc. is shutting down most of its consumer-banking operations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, the latest sign that the original financial supermarket is rethinking how to do business.
The bank on Thursday also reported a sharply higher first-quarter profit, though that was largely because its year-ago results were hammered by pandemic preparations. Citigroup posted a profit of $7.9 billion, or $3.62 a share, well above the $2.60 a share forecast by analysts polled by FactSet. A year earlier, Citigroup had reported a quarterly profit of about $2.5 billion, or $1.05 a share.
The New York bank also said it would exit its consumer operations in 13 countries, mostly across Asia, to focus on wealth management and other businesses.
For Jane Fraser, who took over as chief executive officer last month, the change marks one of her first big moves at the bank’s helm. Ms. Fraser said in a statement that those consumer banks were excellent businesses, but “we don’t have the scale we need to compete.” She said Citigroup would continue to invest in wealth management and in the businesses that work with corporate clients in Asia.
The Citigroup of today was created in 1998, a merger of the consumer-focused Citicorp and the highflying Wall Street bankers at Travelers Group. The company became the world’s largest financial-services firm, and executives envisioned a one-stop shop where globe-hopping travelers could always find a Citi ATM.