HONG KONG — HSBC on Monday announced it is acquiring competitor Citigroup’s retail wealth management business in China, as the U.S. bank continues to wind down the Asian consumer franchise business.
The London-headquartered bank is taking a $3.6 billion portfolio from Citi, which includes deposits and other assets in mainland China but excludes credit cards, mortgages, and other loans, HSBC said in a statement.
The transaction value was not immediately clear. Citi told Nikkei Asia that it had not disclosed details including the price tag, while HSBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the cost from Nikkei Asia.
Citi said late last year that it was looking to shed its consumer banking business in China as part of a regional withdrawal from the sector, which began two years ago.
The move comes as HSBC builds up its wealth business in China. The bank said in the announcement that expects the number of adults in the country with at least $250,000 in net wealth to double to around 351 million by 2030.
“Mainland China is central to our ambition to be the leading wealth manager in Asia. This investment will allow us to further build out our core wealth business in HSBC Bank China,” Nuno Matos, CEO of wealth and personal banking at HSBC, said in the statement.
Citi’s retail wealth management business in the world’s second-largest economy will be incorporated into HSBC’s wealth and personal banking operations in the country. HSBC’s wealth and personal banking in China has recorded a pretax loss every first half of the year since 2020.
For the first six months of this year, it racked up a $12 million loss, smaller than a $38 million loss in the same period last year. Globally, the same business sector recorded strong growth by delivering $8.6 billion in pretax profit in the first half, up 344% from the same period in 2022.
HSBC has also beefed up other channels to tap wealthy Chinese consumers, including the acquisition of the remaining 50% stake in HSBC Life China, and running a fund joint venture to sell retail mutual funds.
Citi, on the other hand, is exiting its consumer franchise business in China to focus on its institutional business. It is also ramping up efforts to capture high net worth and ultrarich clients in China via Hong Kong. In November, it opened the first Citi Global Wealth Centre in an iconic Hong Kong shopping mall located in an area popular with mainland visitors.
In early June, six months before Citi’s announcement about winding down its China consumer business, the U.S. bank’s CEO, Jane Fraser, became the first foreign executive to meet with Li Yunze, the head of the newly formed National Financial Regulatory Administration, the powerful watchdog for China’s banking and insurance sector. Fraser said in the meeting that the bank is committed to expanding in China, according to an announcement from the Chinese regulator.
In April 2021, Citi announced that it would exit 14 consumer markets in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Mexico. In Asia, Citi completed the sale of its Taiwan consumer banking business to DBS Bank in August last year. Singapore’s United Overseas Bank also announced in January last year a plan to acquire the U.S. bank’s unsecured and secured lending portfolios, wealth management, and retail businesses in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam for about 4.9 billion Singapore dollars ($3.6 billion).