Mexico eyes antitrust on Citi deal, expects plenty of interest for assets

Written by on January 12, 2022

January 12, 2022

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s government said on Wednesday it would keep a close eye on excess market concentration as U.S. bank Citigroup sells its consumer banking business in Mexico, and said the divestment should generate plenty of buyer interest.

In a statement, the finance ministry said the departure from Mexico “of such a large consumer bank raises delicate matters for the finance and regulatory authorities, which will receive rigorous and strict attention from the finance ministry, including a fundamental issue regarding concentration.”

The ministry said Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser “came personally to Mexico to explain the decision, and stressed the bank will maintain its wholesale corporate banking activities in our country, which will involve new investments.”

A Mexican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Fraser came in January, some 10 days ago.

Citigroup did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Speaking at a regular news conference, Mexican Interior Minister Adan Augusto Lopez said the government is not looking to buy the Citibanamex assets for sale because it is focused on various projects, including major public works.

Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas said on Tuesday evening he had asked his team to study the possibility of acquiring the Citigroup assets in Mexico, though Lopez said the government had no official information on prospective buyers.

However, noting the assets were a major part of the Mexican banking landscape, Lopez said he expected robust interest.

“There are sure to be various business groups interested in putting forward a purchase offer,” said Lopez, who was standing in for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the conference due to the latter’s infection with COVID-19.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Jonathan Oatis)

Current track