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Citi’s Mexico unit to outline sale phrases in April

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Citibanamex is pictured at a bank branch in Mexico City, Mexico January 13, 2022. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf

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By Anthony Esposito

ACAPULCO, Mexico (Reuters) -Citigroup’s retail unit in Mexico, known as Citibanamex, has said it hopes to define the terms of its sale in April, amid signs of intensifying interest in the bank, expected by analysts to fetch between $4 billion and $8 billion.

Citi country head Manuel Romo told reporters on Wednesday the unit would open its “data room” next month to those it thinks meet the necessary requirements to launch a bid for the bank, which Citi chief executive Jane Fraser announced for sale in January.

“We’re doing this in a timely and appropriate manner,” Romo said in a press conference ahead of the country’s annual banking convention, which is taking place in Acapulco for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Earlier this week, Mexican bank Banorte said that, if it decided to go forward with a bid, it would invite “all Mexicans” to take part in the purchase.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said he wants to see investors “Mexicanize” the bank.

On Thursday, Lopez Obrador said he “will not put up any obstacles” to the sale but underscored that his preference would be for the bank to be in Mexican hands.

Lopez Obrador has mentioned several Mexican magnates, such as Ricardo Salinas, who controls Banco Azteca, and Carlos Hank Gonzalez of Banorte as potential buyers.

In February, Romo said that Citibanamex could be sold directly or through an initial public offering, but that the bank wasn’t open to selling it piecemeal.

He said the sale, which could take up to two years, had received interest from banks and non-banks, both local and foreign.

Analysts have priced Citibanamex from $4 billion to $8 billion, though Citi, which acquired the bank for $12.5 billion in 2001, has yet to put a price tag on it.

Paco Ybarra, chief executive officer of the Institutional Clients Group at Citi, will steer the sale from New York, Romo said Wednesday.

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