PANAMA CITY, April 9 (Reuters) - Citigroup is evaluating a return to Cuba, the U.S. bank's chief executive for Latin America said on Thursday at a business forum.
The thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations has increased hopes for some private companies to return to Cuba after abandoning the country or being expelled following the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.
"Out license in Cuba is active. We have had it for 54 years, it never expired. And we are evidently evaluating our return to Cuba," said Francisco Aristeguieta, the CEO for Citi's operations in 23 Latin American countries where it operates.
But any return was likely to take time "for any number of political reasons," he said.
Even though U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have agreed to restore diplomatic relations, the United States maintains a trade embargo on Cuba, and Communist Cuban officials would need to clear the path for U.S. companies to return.
Despite the challenges presented by the Cuban market, global corporations are showing a great interest in doing business there, Aristeguieta said.
He was speaking at a forum related to the Summit of the Americas in Panama, where leaders from the hemisphere including Obama and Castro will meet on Friday and Saturday. (Reporting by Enrique Pretel; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Andrew Hay)