MUMBAI, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Axis Bank has emerged
as the frontrunner to buy Citi's consumer business in India,
which is being valued at around $1.5 billion in a planned deal
that's likely to happen this month, according to two sources
with direct knowledge of the matter.
Another Indian lender, Kotak Mahindra Bank is
still in the race but has submitted a lower bid than Axis Bank
so ranks second in Citi's order of preference, the sources told
Citi India, Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank did not
immediately respond to requests for comment.
Wall Street giant Citi said last year that it would exit its
consumer franchises in 13 markets, including India, as it
refocuses on its more lucrative institutional and wealth
management businesses. Its Indian consumer banking business
comprises credit cards, home loans and retail banking.
Acquiring the assets would strengthen the high-end credit
card and mortgage businesses of Axis Bank, India's third largest
private lender, analysts at ICICI Direct said in a note.
"The acquisition of Citi's India retail business would
further help Axis Bank to expand their reach and create more
opportunities," they added.
Citi has been in India for decades and was among the first
bank to introduce Indians to credit cards in 1987.
It had a portfolio of 2.57 million credit cards in the
country as of November, according to the Indian central bank,
while Axis Bank's card portfolio exceeded 7.9 million. Even
though Axis has more cards, Citi reported higher spend per card.
Citi's total retail loan book in India stood at 216 billion
rupees ($2.91 billion) for 2021, Systematix Institutional
Equities said in a report last month.
($1 = 74.2350 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Nupur Anand; Editing by Pravin Char)