Citigroup tipped for European bank merger

SENIOR STAFF at Citigroup, the $150bn American banking and finance giant, have been primed to expect a merger deal with one of the top 10 European banks as the group's next strategic move.

Sandy Weill, the highest paid banker in the world, and John Reed, the groups co-chairmen, have been in London this week talking to heads of department in Europe about options for growing their business areas. They have let it be known that expansion is the top priority.

Names of potential partners that have surfaced internally include HSBC, which recently bought Edmond Safra's Republic Bank of New York in the US for $10bn, and Spain's BSCH. However, it is far from clear that either would agree to a deal.

Other possibilities could include Barclays, which, with Matt Barrett, its new Canadian chief executive, coming on board next month is thought likely to be receptive to the idea of a trans-Atlantic merger deal.

Staff at Salomon Smith Barney, the investment bank owned by Citigroup, have also heard gossip that Schroders, Cazenove and even Warburg might also be on Mr Weill's hit list. British bankers have long felt that a major strategic move in the UK by Citigroup was only a matter of time.

"There is definitely talk that Sandy is itching to write a cheque," said one insider. "Others would prefer the group to grow organically but there is no doubt that he is a deal man."

Mr Weill has been one of the most aggressive consolidators in the American financial services industry steering Travellers, the US insurance giant, to a merger with Citicorp last year. The group has a strong presence in both Latin American and Asia, but despite a recent sales push in the UK has yet to crack the European retail market. It is also one of the most profitable corporations in the world, having racked up profits of more than $2bn for the past two quarters.

Another insider said: "If we get to the end of the year and don't make some form of announcement, I would be very surprised. Sandy wants asset management; we want the UK. The question is: `do we want to grow organically or will we get there quicker if we acquire'?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral