Kasikornbank Weighs Bid for Citigroup’s Thai Retail Business
(Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s second-biggest lender is considering a bid for Citigroup Inc.’s retail assets in the country to expand its wealth management, consumer lending and credit card businesses.
Kasikornbank Pcl is interested in the U.S. lender’s business in Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy and will study the details as soon as the process is open, Chief Executive Officer Kattiya Indaravijaya said in a recent phone interview. “Citigroup’s retail business here has a very large and good customer base.”
Kasikornbank joins counterparts such as Singapore’s DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and United Overseas Bank Ltd. in expressing an interest in Citigroup’s regional assets. The U.S. bank could fetch as much as $6 billion from selling its retail business in 13 markets across Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.
For Kasikornbank, acquisitions and regional expansion are key as it fends off rising competition from new entrants into the industry especially from financial technology firms, said Kattiya. Still, any bid for Citi’s assets would only happen if an acquisition creates synergy and adds value to the bank’s existing businesses, she said.
Separately, Kasikornbank plans to expand its operations in Indonesia and Vietnam -- particularly in retail -- to tap rising demand from growing populations, Kattiya said. The bank is partnering with PT Bank Maspion Indonesia, in which it owns about a 10% stake. In Vietnam, Kasikornbank has a banking license and is cooperating with e-commerce providers, she said.
Kattiya expressed “great concern” about the new outbreak of novel coronavirus, which has severely hurt Thailand’s economic recovery. The government’s new business restrictions to stem the new infections have affected Kasikornbank’s debtors, especially tourism-related companies and small firms, she said.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.