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Citi to sell Japanese brokerage unit
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March 30, 2009 16:08 IST

Troubled financial services firm Citigroup is inviting bids for selling its Japanese brokerage unit, Nikko Cordial, in an effort to raise over $5 billion, a media report says.

The Financial Times in a report said that auction for Nikko Cordial, which was acquired by Citi for about $13 billion in cash and shares, is part of the company's strategy of selling non-core assets to strengthen its battered balance sheet and cut back its wide spread operations.

Quoting people close to the situation, Financial Times said,"After holding informal talks with potential bidders, including Japan's three largest banks, Citi had begun soliciting formal offers for Nikko Cordial and wanted to select a buyer as early as the end of April."

The report added that Citi has declined to comment on the issue.

The daily quoting people close to the situation stated that Citi believes that Nikko Cordial could be worth between $5 billion and $9 billion.

Although the price range is far below the $13 billion Citi paid for the business, it would probably allow the financial services major to record an accounting gain as the original takeover included other operations, such as Nikko's asset management arm and a trust company, it added.

Besides, the divestment of Nikko Cordial, which was one of Citi's biggest overseas acquisitions, would mark a retrenchment in Japan, an economy the US bank had long regarded as crucial to its international plans, the daily said.

The report further added that people close to Citi believe the US bank remains committed to Japan but some analysts believe a sale would hit Nikko Citigroup.

The report stated, "selling Nikko Cordial shortly after Citi's German retail bank and US brokerage unit could also fuel criticism that the crisis is forcing Vikram Pandit, the company's chief executive, to shed some of its best businesses."

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