Amid growing optimism about the credit card market, a handful of major domestic banks, including HDFC Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank, are seen as the first to acquire Citi’s credit card division in India.
According to sources, around 5-6 banks are in the process of bidding for Citi’s credit card business in India. These include HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and DBS Bank India, the sources said.
HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank did not respond to an email from Activity area.
DBS Bank India and Citi declined to comment on a similar email request sent by Activity area.
Many Indian lenders are looking to grow their credit card business and Citi’s portfolio of high-quality clients will be a useful addition, a source noted.
Brokerage firm Jefferies said in a note in April that Citi’s exit from retail in India could open up opportunities for Indian private banks, credit card players and foreign banks in the country.
Citigroup announced in April this year its decision to pull out of its consumer banking operations in India as part of an ongoing strategic review, which was among strategic actions in the global consumer banking space on 13 markets.
Citi has lost market share in the country, however, and valuations could prove to be a problem.
According to data from the Reserve Bank of India, Citi Bank had 25.93 lakh of credit cards in circulation at the end of August 2021, compared to 26.21 lakh at the end of April 2021 and 27.39 lakh at the end of August 2020.
It is estimated to have around 4 percent of the market share in the credit card segment in terms of number and 5 percent in terms of spending.
Any asset sale will require RBI approval and will likely take at least another 4-5 months.