citi-reorganises-its-asia-business

Citi reorganises its Asia business

In an effort to achieve greater efficiencies, the firm divides the region into four areas supported by seven product and coverage groups.
Now that Ajay Banga is in charge of Citi Asia Pacific, he is organising a regional restructuring of the business just as he promised he would do earlier this month in an interview with FinanceAsia.

The reorganisation is an effort to (as the firm put it in a press release): "achieve greater client focus, product excellence, and greater efficiencies".

"When we last spoke, I talked about our new regional CEO structure being a step towards getting closer to our clients and bringing greater decision making into the region. This new structure takes that thinking a step further by eliminating unnecessary layers and establishing a clear decision-making and accountability within Asia Pacific. It's designed to foster greater partnership across all products and geographies by giving everyone a voice at the same table," says Banga.

The new structure divides Citi's Asia Pacific region into four geographic clusters - Japan, North Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia Pacific. The bank says the geographical segments will be supported by seven product and coverage groups that are custom-tailored for the Asia Pacific region - consumer banking and global cards; corporate and commercial bank; global transaction services; investment banking; markets; wealth management and alternative investments.

In the new organisation, Shengman Zhang will continue as president, Citi Asia Pacific, reporting to Banga who is the CEO of Citi Asia Pacific. Zhang will manage the Citi country officer network across the region on regulatory and senior client relations. Zhang remains the Citi Country Officer for Hong Kong.

Each of Citi Asia Pacific's four geographic clusters, will be led by a CEO, who will oversee all Citi businesses in the respective geographies, and report to Banga: Doug Peterson will continue to lead Japan; Stephen Bird will lead North Asia comprising China, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan; Sanjay Nayar will continue to lead South Asia comprising Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka and Piyush Gupta will lead Southeast Asia Pacific comprising Australia, New Zealand, Guam and the Asean countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand and Vietnam. All are big regions for Citi but perhaps the most interesting to watch will be North Asia, with Citi saying it is keen to continue its expansion with launches in early August of the bank's first own branded debit card in China and the launch of a credit card linked to the Octopus Card in Hong Kong.

As for the product and coverage groups, each will be led by a regional leader. Bird will continue to head consumer banking and global cards, in addition to his North Asia cluster role. Banga will personally lead alternative investments and define the regional growth strategy for this business.

Mark Renton and Dan McNamara will continue heading the investment banking business. And Farhan Faruqui will continue to head the corporate and commercial bank which he took over handling roughly three months ago while Anthony Nappi will continue to head global transaction services.

Rodrigo Zorrilla and David Ratliff will be co-heads for markets with responsibility for driving Citi's combined fixed income, currencies and commodities and equities businesses. Markets is the new structure for combined equities and fixed income, so this pair up makes sense as Ratliff, was formerly head of equities and Zorrilla was formerly co-head of fixed income, currencies and commodities.

Aamir Rahim, previously the other co-head of fixed income, currencies and commodities with Zorrilla, has been appointed head of global wealth management, Asia Pacific. Kaven Leung had been in charge of this area but he joined Goldman Sachs about a month ago leaving the post up for grabs. Rahim is expected to work closely with the fixed income group and so this move is being billed as a perfect example of how cross-selling within the firm can be achieved if you move a person with experience in one area (debt capital markets) to another area (such as global wealth management).

"It gives some of our best talent multi-product business exposure, which is central to our efforts to foster greater partnership and bring all our company together to the benefit of our clients." says Banga.

Citi was careful to point out that moving Faruqui (who also used to work in fixed income) and Rahim to their new positions is all about moving "big guns" to "big jobs" -- not a reflection of a slowed down fixed income market. Indeed, the firm notes that while the primary market is quiet, local markets are still active and secondary trading is busy across fixed income, currencies and commodities.

In terms of the outlook, Banga is naturally upbeat. As he says: "We want to remain at the centre of the investments flows into this region and involved in the most significant capital markets transactions as well as serving the fast growing middle class and affluent in the region, via a structure that is robust but also flexible for us to react quickly to new opportunities. We believe this structure delivers that for us."

Banga's impact after roughly the first 100 days is clearly already being felt across Asia -- you may say that it has taken a newcomer to Citi Asia with a fresh perspective to take on CEO Vikram Pandit's commitment to giving Citi regional autonomy.

It will be interesting to see how putting consumer banking and global cards, and global wealth management on the same level as investment banking and corporate and commercial banking will have on numbers and cross sell successes. Watch this space.
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