Citi still loves Beantown

September 24, 2009

It appears Citi may not be pulling out of cities like Boston and Houston after all.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Citi is giving serious consideration to shrinking its retail banking presence in the US by retreating from cities where its laggard, such as Boston, Houston and Philadelphia. Instead, the bailed out banking giant would focus on six major US cities where its retail presence is strongest.

But the WSJ story only may be half right. I’m told that Citi does intend to put more focus on the six cities its strongest in and may close or sell some branches in the cities where it’s weakest. But for now, according to a source close to the bank, there is “no plan to dramatically change” Citi’s retail footprint in the US.

Seems to me, a retrenchment from three major metropolitan areas would be a dramatic change.

Now it’s possible there are people within Citi discussing a full-scale retail banking retreat, but I think it’s unlikely. If Citi were to abandon three major US cities it would spark a firestorm of protest on Capitol Hill and rekindle populist anger over the big bailout for the struggling bank.

And it would lead one to question whether it makes sense for US taxpayers to keep bailing out a bank that’s bailing on them?

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