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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Citibank Japan opens with eye on retirees

Staff writer

Citibank Japan Ltd., a new subsidiary formed Sunday by U.S. financial giant Citigroup Inc., has kicked off operations targeting wealthy retail banking customers, the company said Monday.

Citigroup appointed Sunil Kaul as Citibank Japan president, replacing Douglas Peterson, who became chairman. Peterson will remain the highest ranking representative of Citigroup in Japan.

"We are obviously interested in the mass affluent segment," Kaul said at a news conference.

Kaul said Citibank will target retirees, especially baby boomers, who will turn from savers into investors as they collect their lucrative retirement pay. He also hopes to expand banking services via new channels, such as mobile phones and the Internet.

A native of India, Kaul served as head of Citigroup's retail banking sector for the Asia-Pacific region. He also headed the corporate banking division's global transaction services in Citibank Japan between 2002 and 2003.

Citibank Japan assumes the banking operations previously conducted by Citibank N.A., including its network of 30 branches across Japan. It opened a new branch in Urawa, Saitama Prefecture, on Monday and plans to open four others in Chiba, Osaka, Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and Aobadai, Kanagawa Prefecture, by early August, it said.

The international bank has said it plans to double its retail branches in Japan and triple the number of corporate clients in the next few years.

As for listing its shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Peterson, who was also present at the news conference, said it is still considering the possibility but has not yet come up with a definitive plan.

Peterson said he is making an effort to get Citigroup and Nikko Cordial Corp. to cooperate and integrate further to generate greater synergy.

Citigroup became Nikko Cordial's parent in May after acquiring about 61 percent of the scandal-tainted brokerage's outstanding shares through a public tender. Further market purchases have upped the holding to about 68 percent. The brokerage admitted falsifying its fiscal 2004 financial report in December by padding profits through illegal manipulation of transactions among affiliates.

Fearing that a highly possible delisting from the Tokyo Stock Exchange would discredit it, Nikko Cordial agreed in March to be taken over by Citigroup.

For related stories:
Citigroup bags Nikko Cordial for 920 billion yen
Citigroup bid firm at 1,700 yen as Nikko tender offer starts
Nikko agrees to become a subsidiary of Citigroup

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