CEO Jane Fraser said today that CITI Bank appears to be on track to keep its banking license and some operations in Russia.
The move comes as the global banking behemoth attempts to offload its consumer and commercial banking operations in Russia.
Citi has the largest outside lending business in Russia, and it was actively looking to sell its consumer unit even before the invasion of Ukraine.
When asked if Citi would try to keep its licenses, Fraser said, "We don’t know yet, we haven’t made a decision on exactly what size we will be." She added that the bank "will just be materially smaller [in Russia] than it has been."
She expressed hope that peace talks with Russia "will take hold," but Citi was "not quite sure what the end state looks like" at the moment.
The banks announced in March that they would stop taking on new clients in the country, and that they would divest "significant portions" of their local business in April.
Citi could lose $3 billion if all of its business in Russia "went really awry," according to Ms Fraser.
Citi is staying in Russia for the time being to assist multinational clients, some of whom are trying to wind down their businesses, according to Fraser.
"These are pharma companies, these are the food companies, technology firms," she explained.
"We’ve been helping them — many of them are exiting or shrinking down their operations — and if your bank isn’t there doing the payroll or helping you with that exit process, it is very hard to actually achieve that."
She remained tight-lipped about reports that the lender was selling its retail franchise in Russia to Expobank.
She said of a potential sale, "You are not selling Coca-Cola on a retail shelf that you can turn off tomorrow. It takes a bit more time ."
She acknowledged, however, that it was "not an easy environment to make sure that you will actually be able to close a deal," and that Citi was divesting its businesses "as fast as we can."
Since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in late February, Western banks have set aside billions of dollars in provisions to prepare for potential losses due to sanctions and looming recessions.
Société Générale, the country's largest bank, was the first foreign bank to strike a deal in April, when it announced plans to sell its Russian operations to a Russian investor, taking a €3.1 billion hit in the process.
By fLEXI tEAM