Citigroup to Exit Venezuela With Agreement to Sell Unit to BNC

Citigroup Inc. plans to exit Venezuela by selling its remaining business there, ending more than a century of operating in the South American country.

The New York-based firm agreed to sell the unit to Banco Nacional de Credito, has already obtained regulatory approval and expects to complete the deal in coming weeks, the companies said Monday in a statement.

Citigroup set up branches in Venezuela in 1917 to provide financial services to international companies lured into the oil-rich region. The bank has stuck it out through political turmoil and U.S. sanctions, serving both retail customers and institutional businesses in the country. A few years ago, dealings with the nation’s central bank left Citigroup facing the prospect of having to sell gold that had been posted as collateral for a swap agreement.

The firm has fewer than 100 employees there, and they will be given the opportunity of staying on with BNC, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named discussing confidential information. A decade ago, Citigroup’s website showed it had about 700 people there.

“Citi is committed to Latin America and will maintain a strong presence in the region,” Ernesto Torres Cantu, who oversees Citigroup’s business across Latin America, said in the statement.

BNC operates roughly 120 offices, six regional bureaus and a branch in Curacao. The firm will use the acquisition from Citigroup to offer products to Venezuelan companies and multinational corporations, according to the statement.

“BNC is committed to supporting Citi’s clients in Venezuela who will continue receiving high-quality financial services while benefiting from the advantages of an expanding local bank with a skilled professional team and a modern technological platform,” BNC Chief Executive Officer Jorge Nogueroles said in the statement.

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