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CEO says Citigroup is going back to basics

Aug. 21, 2012 at 11:30 AM

NEW YORK, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit said emerging markets, including business in China, would be the focus of the bank's growth.

Despite the recent economic slowdown in China, Citigroup is "banking on the fact that the growth story is intact" for the emerging markets, Pandit said.

The bank's profits in Asia in the second quarter outpaced global earnings at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, which are investment banks, The Financial Times reported.

Citigroup, which set the pace for mergers before the financial crisis of 2008, has sold most of the businesses it picked up when it merged with Travelers in 1998, Pandit pointed out.

While that meant Citigroup could concentrate on its core retail banking business, it did not mean Pandit endorsed the concept of breaking up the corporation into separate investing and retail banking, the Times said.

Former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill recently said banks should separate the two businesses due to the risk of leaving banks too big to fail.

Pandit said Citigroup had learned that lesson on its own.

"What's left here is essentially the old Citicorp. That's a tried and proven strategy. Why did it work? Because it was a strategy based upon operating the business and serving clients and not a strategy based on deal making. That's the fundamental difference," Pandit said.

"When you look at our business, the biggest growth trend is in our ability and our requirement to serve those emerging-market multinationals in the way we used to serve and continue to serve some of the developed-market multinationals," he said.

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