Citigroup says Brazilian unit sale talks may last up to 3 months

lunes 13 de junio de 2016 18:59 GYT

By Cesar Raizer and Guillermo Parra-Bernal

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO, June 13 (Reuters) - Talks between Citigroup Inc and potential bidders for its Brazilian retail banking unit could last up to three more months until "there is news" of a deal, the U.S. lender's top executive in the country said on Monday.

According to Helio Magalhães, senior country executive for Citigroup in Brazil, the bank is laying the groundwork to further the process, though he would not elaborate. He also declined to mention potential bidders.

Citigroup announced in February a plan to sell retail banking operations in Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. Citigroup, which has been present in Brazil for over a century, is trimming underperforming banking operations globally to cut costs amid increasing competition.

"We probably have two or three months ahead until getting some news," Magalhães told reporters in Brasilia, where he met Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles.

Sources told Reuters recently that Itaú Unibanco Holding SA , Brazil's largest bank by market value, and Banco Santander Brasil SA, have shown interest in parts of Citigroup's Brazil business.

The sources, who requested anonymity because the process is underway, said non-binding offers could be presented as early as this month.

The banks declined to comment on the bidding for Citigroup's local unit.

Citigroup's departure from Brazil from Latin America's largest banking market would come after HSBC Holdings Plc agreed to sell its subsidiary in the country to Banco Bradesco SA for $5.2 billion in August. (Additional reporting by Tatiana Bautzer in São Paulo)