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Citigroup CEO says Mexico IPO is best for shareholders, other sales going well

Kitco News

NEW YORK, June 2 (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc (C.N) CEO Jane Fraser said scrapping the sale of its Mexican retail business, known as Banamex, and pursuing an initial public offering (IPO) was in the best interest of shareholders.

"We acted decisively, we acted very swiftly and we said 'okay, we're gonna go down the IPO path,'" Fraser said in an investor conference in New York.

Citi announced last week the sale process, which had dragged on for more than a year, had been scrapped. An IPO is planned for 2025.

Citi's other divestitures are proceeding well, Fraser said. It has signed nine sales agreements nine markets and closed seven deals, including in Australia, India and Vietnam.

"Banamex is important, but the overwhelming volume of the simplification we are doing at Citi and the strategy is already executed," she said. The bank has begun modest share repurchases, Fraser added.

Citi aims to reduce its expenses next year, with "people" accounting for some of the cost cuts, she said.

The CEO held off on giving guidance about trading revenue, citing a landmark U.S. bill to lift the debt ceiling that has just passed and is still being digested by markets.

Rival banks have recently warned of tougher times ahead. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS.N) President John Waldron said on Thursday that revenue for both equities and fixed-income trading is expected to decline 25% this quarter compared with a year earlier, when rising interest rates and the war in Ukraine boosted market activity.

Executives from JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley also predicted sliding revenues for investment banking and trading, while Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) forecast they would remain broadly flat.

By contrast, Fraser said there is a lot of pent-up demand that could lead to a revival in investment banking. Debt issuance has a strong start to the year, there are "signs of life" in leveraged finance and some IPOs.

Citigroup shares were up 3.7% in late afternoon trade.

Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer and Saeed Azhar in New York; Editing by David Gregorio, Lananh Nguyen and Nick Zieminski
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