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India's best international bank 2020: Citi


Ashu Khullar CEO, India and Citi Cluster Head, South Asia, Citi.jpg
Ashu Khullar, Citi

Citi has beaten other foreign banks in the Indian market for years now, and this year was no exception.

The bank reported profit after tax of $605 million for the financial year ending March 31, 2019, up 23% year on year. Its return on assets was 2.6%, while the net non-performing assets ratio was a marginal 0.5%.

Citi is one of the few international banks that has its fingers in pretty much every pie of India’s financial industry, from investment banking, transaction services and capital markets to credit cards and consumer banking.

The US bank’s consumer banking business in India has 2.9 million customers, as well as 18,600 small and medium-sized enterprise clients and 1.2 million liability account customers. The franchise has grown by about 28% over the last six years, from $572 million in revenue in the 2012/13 financial year to $732 million in 2018/19.

Led by Ashu Khullar, chief executive of Citi India and Citi cluster head for South Asia, the bank is ahead in several areas. It is a top credit card issuer among international firms, with a 7.7% share in card spends, and was the first bank to launch home loans linked to a Reserve Bank of India external benchmark.

A handful of things stood out in 2019. For one, Citi gave a big fillip to its digital offering to customers. It rolled out a customized mobile app for Suvidha, or professional, customers and also ramped up the acquisition of these clients, increasing new accounts by 24% over the previous year.

Next, it focused on cross-selling between the retail and cards businesses; the cross sell of credit cards to retail clients jumped 37% while the cross sell of retail to cards clients surged 84% year on year.

Citi was a force to be reckoned with in corporate and investment banking too, working on numerous headline deals. On the equities side, this included a $1.8 billion placement for Axis Bank and the first preferential issue of units for a listed infrastructure investment trust, IndiGrid.

In the international debt market, it took firms such as Greenko, Airtel and State Bank of India to the dollar bond market.

It worked on 19 equity capital markets deals last year and earned league table credits of $2.1 billion, putting it in second place with a 10.1% market share, according to Dealogic. Among G3 bond bookrunners for India, Citi ranked fifth with $1.1 billion in credits and 7.1% market share.

Its private banking business is robust, with $8.5 billion in assets under management as of December 2019. In trade and treasury services, it has a strong foothold as the leading foreign bank for electronic cash management, and is among the top for cash management and capturing trade flows.

Citi’s franchise remains unmatched; it will be a while before any other international bank knocks it off first place.

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