Citigroup, the Wall Street giant, said last year that it will leave its consumer franchises in 13 regions, including India, in order to focus on its more profitable institutional and wealth management businesses. Credit cards, housing loans, and retail banking are all part of its Indian consumer banking division. Citi has a long history in India, having been one of the first banks to provide credit cards to Indians in 1987.
In a planned deal that is expected to complete this month, Axis Bank has emerged as the forerunner to buy Citi’s consumer business in India, which is valued at roughly $1.5 billion. The assets will help Axis Bank, India’s third-largest private lender, strengthen its high-end credit card and mortgage divisions. Another Indian bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, is still in the running as submitted a lesser bid than Axis Bank, putting it in the second candidate in Citi’s preferred list.