Citibank Korea Inc., the South Korean unit of U.S.-based Citigroup Inc., said Tuesday that it plans to close or consolidate its branches operating across the country by 30 percent, a move seen to help beef up its falling profitability.
The lender said the number of its branches will be reduced to 134 from 190. It also said it will focus on wealthy customers in Seoul and other major cities such as Busan, denying rumors that it would pull out of the country.
The closure or consolidation of branches may lead to a cut in headcount at the lender, industry sources said.
Citibank Korea logged a net profit of 219 billion won (US$208 million) last year, down 8.1 percent from a year earlier, mainly due to a fall in interest income and increased loan-loss reserve.
Foreign banks such as Citi and Standard Chartered Bank Korea are suffering a fall in their presence in Asia's fourth-largest economy in the face of increased competition with bigger local players such as Woori Bank and Shinhan Bank.