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November 26, 2009

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Citigroup bullish on continuing its expansion across mainland

CITIGROUP Inc will continue to invest in China by pioneering new technology to grow its personal banking services, a senior company official said yesterday in Shanghai.

"Asia-Pacific is one of the most exciting markets for Citi," said Jonathan Larsen, Citi's head of consumer banking and global cards for Asia-Pacific. "We will continue our investment in China, especially the major centers like Shanghai."

Citi senior bankers discounted the appearance of a slowdown in their China expansion, saying they are continuing their growth strategy despite the global financial crisis.

Citi said it opened lending companies, expanded banking networks and introduced more products in China this year.

Andrew Au, Citi China chairman and chief executive officer, said the bank is optimistic about growth prospects in China next year.

High-tech touches

Citi is planning to open an outlet in Chongqing next month.

The financial company yesterday launched a new sub-branch in Shanghai's affluent Xintiandi area with tech-driven facilities such as videoconference services and wireless Internet access.

"The new sub-branch is an example of the way we want to differentiate from other banks," said Larsen. "It's the continuation of our consumer banking strategy in China."

Last year, Citibank China's net income almost doubled to 1.3 billion yuan. The bank's capital adequacy ratio on the Chinese mainland rose to 13.6 percent in 2008, up from 11.5 percent in 2007.

The company has about 4,000 employees.

Au declined to provide a forecast for the bank's financial performance in China this year or any quarterly figures.

Citi set up its domestic entity - Citibank (China) Co - on the Chinese mainland in 2007, one of the first overseas banks to do so.

Citibank China has eight corporate branches and 27 consumer banking outlets in Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin and other major cities on the mainland.

Citi's business on the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong, contributed to about one-third of Citi's business in the Asia-Pacific region.


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