Citicorp considering sale of French, Italian assets


Citicorp is considering the sale of its consumer branch-banking businesses in Italy and France as part of its efforts to trim assets and increase its financial strength, news reports and bankers say.

A trade publication, American Banker, reported yesterday that Italian bankers said that the Citicorp subsidiary in Italy had not been formally offered for sale, but that Citicorp officials had indicated they would listen to offers.

The Italian subsidiary specializes in consumer and small-business banking through a network of 52 branches.

Other bankers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Citicorp Italia was dispensable because its branches were not in the high-traffic locations the company wants in the future.

In France, Citicorp made it clear earlier this year that the 13 branches of its Paris-based Compagnie Generale de Banque subsidiary were for sale, said Marc Vienot, managing director of Societe Generale, the country's fourth-largest bank.

Susan Weeks, a Citicorp spokeswoman, declined to comment on the reports that the company might sell the Italian or French subsidiaries. In the past, Citicorp officials have conceded that they they are not well positioned in France, where local banks are strong.

Steven Lewis, a London-based banking analyst for Salomon Brothers, said the Italian government's ownership of the country's largest banks meant there was a shortage of $l acquisition candidates.

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