Christine Lam appointed Citi China head

Citi has appointed Christine Lam as its country officer for China. She replaces Andrew Au, who is retiring, the US bank announced on Tuesday.

Citi has appointed Christine Lam as its country officer for China, replacing Andrew Au who’s retiring in June after a 32-year stint, the US bank announced on Tuesday.

Lam, another Citi veteran and most recently its head of operations and technology for Asia, will oversee all of the bank’s businesses and franchise operations in China in her new role, which will take effect in June. She will move from Hong Kong to Shanghai, and report to Francisco Aristeguieta, Citi’s Asia-Pacific chief executive.  

A career banker, Lam joined Citi as a management associate in the Financial Institutions Group in 1983. She subsequently worked in various business and operation roles in Canada and Hong Kong, and spent a number of years in trade services and the worldwide securities business (now securities services).

She worked her way to the top, becoming chief operating officer for Asia global banking in 2004 and deputy country business manager for Hong Kong with direct responsibility for the retail business in 2011.

Lam served as country business manager for Hong Kong and Macau since 2013, demonstrating leadership skills in managing one of Citi’s largest consumer businesses in Asia. She was also on FinanceAsia’s list of top 25 women in finance in 2015.

“Her wide-ranging experience across both our institutional and consumer businesses, with an extensive background in O&T over a 33-year career, will be critical to delivering the full power of our network and value propositions to capture growth opportunities we see in China,” said Aristeguieta in an internal memo seen by FinanceAsia.

Citi first established business in China in 1902 when it opened its Shanghai office. The New York-headquartered bank now runs operations and employs 8,000 staff in 13 cities across the country.

In recent years, Citi has focused more on affluent consumer banking clients living in cities, selling them a mix of financial products via bank branches and digital platforms. This is a global strategy for Citi and one it wants implemented in China too.

Andrew Au, Lam’s predecessor, decided to retire in June after having spent 32 years at Citi. He was named as the bank’s China chairman and CEO in 2008 after previously working as Asia head of Citi’s commercial bank for three years.

Under his eight-year watch, Citi set up an onshore securities joint venture with Orient Securities in 2012 and became the first global bank to launch sole-branded credit cards in the country the same year. The bank’s overall revenue in China also totaled more than $1 billion in 2014, according to a spokesman for the bank.

In February, Citi sold its minority stake in mainland Chinese lender China Guangfa Bank for $3 billion, after a decade-long investment as the cost of holding stakes in banks grows. 

This article has been updated to reflect the fact Lam will be based in Shanghai, not Hong Kong and that Au spent eight years in his post

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