Wed, Sep 12, 2018 - Page 12 News List

INTERVIEW: Asia a vital contributor to Citigroup’s growth: CEO

Citigroup chief executive officer Michael Corbat shared his insights into meeting the company’s goal for 2020 and Taiwan’s role in the endeavor in an e-mail interview yesterday with ‘Taipei Times’ staff reporter Ted Chen

Citigroup chief executive officer Michael Corbat is pictured in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of Citigroup

Taipei Times (TT): As the CEO of the largest network bank in the world, how is Citi supporting clients in Taiwan and around the world?

Michael Corbat: We’re focused on serving our target clients in two core franchises: our Institutional Clients Group and our Global Consumer Bank. Both are strong businesses for Citi in Taiwan, where we are the largest international bank by revenues.

In Taiwan, we serve consumers across the full spectrum of their financial needs, from credit cards to lending and saving. Whether our relationship with a customer starts with a card product or a deposit account, our goal is to deepen that relationship to include all of their payment, borrowing, saving and investment activities.

In Taiwan, we are proud to be a digital pioneer. We were the first to launch voice biometrics in 2016 and we are digitizing our credit-card application process this year.

Locally, in the past 12 months, we advised on the transaction in which Yageo Corp (國巨) acquired Pulse Electronics for US$740 million and when Ruentex Group (潤泰集團) sold a 36 percent stake to Alibaba (阿里巴巴) for US$2.9 billion.

TT: Citi has a strong business in Taiwan and more broadly across the Asia-Pacific region — how can Taiwan and the region support the Investor Day targets you set out for 2020?

Corbat: At our Investor Day in July last year, we laid out 2020 targets and outlined three strategic paths we would pursue to reach those financial targets.

These were to deliver sustainable, client-led growth by deepening our relationships with existing clients and reaching new clients within our targeted segments; leverage our scale and investments in technology to enhance the client experience and improve our operating efficiency; and optimize our capital base and return all the capital above the amount needed to prudently operate and invest in our franchise.

Asia is home to many rapidly growing economies that are leading to increasing consumer wealth and regional and global aspirations for Asian companies. We are well positioned to leverage these trends as Asia’s leading consumer and network bank.

The region is making important contributions to Citi’s overall story as well — in the past 12 months, we have increased revenues in Asia by more than US$1 billion by deepening clients’ relationships and being at the forefront of digital innovations.

Most recently, in the second quarter of this year, we reported earnings of US$4.5 billion and earnings per share of US$1.63, up 27 percent from one year ago.

Taiwan has made a big contribution too — with earnings up 20 percent last year.

TT: You recently announced another large capital return to investors, marking another step in your transformation. When you meet institutional investors, what is the key message you are giving them about your company?

Corbat: Citi today is a balanced and global franchise that is not overly dependent on any one client, segment, country or region. We are capturing growth across multiple engines and are poised to take advantage of additional opportunities for growth around the world.

This positioning gives us the confidence that we will continue to improve our returns through a combination of client-led revenue growth, expense discipline and significant capital return.

Over the past year, Citi repurchased about 8 percent of common shares outstanding and we recently announced plans to return an additional US$22 billion of capital through dividends and buybacks over the next 12 months.

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