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January 20, 2010

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Citibank records US$7.6b loss

CITIGROUP yesterday said it lost US$7.6 billion during the final three months of 2009 as consumers in the United States still struggled to repay loans and the bank repaid its government bailout money.

Citigroup said US$6.2 billion of the loss was tied to paying back US$20 billion in money it received from the federal government.

The New York-based bank set aside US$8.18 billion to cover soured loans during the quarter. However, in an encouraging sign, Citigroup's provision for loan losses declined 10 percent from the previous quarter and 36 percent from the year-ago period when the credit crisis peaked.

Still, the bank's Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said in a statement: "The environment continues to be challenging." And the company noted in its news release that it had cut 100,000 jobs during the past year.

Citigroup was the bank hit hardest by the credit crisis and recession, receiving US$45 billion in bailout money. It may turn out to have the poorest fourth-quarter showing among the big banks, as it lacks the big investment bank and trading operations that have helped other companies offset their losses from bad loans.

JPMorgan Chase & Co last Friday reported a US$3.28 billion profit on the strength of its investment banking unit. JPMorgan said it set aside US$7.28 billion for failed loans during the fourth quarter, nearly identical to the amount it reserved during the final quarter in 2008. It also warned that it didn't know when it would be able to stop adding to its loan reserves.

Gerspach did say the bank is seeing signs credit might be stabilizing or improving, especially in some of its international businesses.

The bank lost 33 cents per share during the quarter, in line with analysts expectations, according to Thomson Reuters.

Citigroup raised US$20 billion in new capital during the fourth quarter to repay bailout funds.


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