Sunday, 23 November 2008

Citi India staff face downsizing; severance offers made

‘Not a bad idea to opt for the package’.

Mumbai, Nov. 22 Some of Citi India’s employees have been sounded out on severance; this comes close on the heels of the parent bank recently announcing it would cut 52,000 jobs in the US over the next year on the back of mounting loan losses.

The bank’s Indian operations — with a staff strength of around 11,000 — would be downsizing too, said insiders. A senior Citi India official, who declined to be identified, said employees across senior, mid, and junior levels face retrenchment. “The severance package is not too bad. It may not be a bad idea to opt for it as the bank could face a takeover sooner or later,” the official said.

Across the group
Offers of a severance package have been made not only to staff from the bank, but also to employees in Citi’s capital markets arm and Citifinancial, the group’s non-banking subsidiary in India, he added.

Developments at the bank come in the wake of Mr Sanjay Nayar, former CEO for India and South Asia, Citibank, moving to Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co as its first chief executive officer and country head for India. Citigroup has appointed Mr Mark Robinson in Mr Nayar’s place.

A senior Citifinancial official said: “I have no information as yet about lay-offs. As far as business goes, we have restructured our operations by stopping small-ticket retail advances to customers in the Socio-Economic Categories B and C as we have faced a lot of defaults. We are now focussing only on extending big ticket advances to SEC A customers, who have the wherewithal to repay loans.”

The official pointed out that, as part of the cost-cutting exercise, some of Citifinancial’s unviable branches may be closed down. “Earlier, a customer could get a loan from us with minimum fuss. But with loan defaults rising, we have tightened the credit appraisal procedures. We now also have a fraud check mechanism in place. So, a customer now has to wait longer to get a loan from us,” he said.

Incidentally, Citigroup Inc, which reported a $5.1-billion loss in the first quarter of its accounting year, said in April 2008 that its Indian operations suffered higher credit costs (provisions against bad debt and write-offs) and increased recovery costs.

India driven
It said the Indian operations contributed to the decline in Citigroup’s net income from Asia. The group had also said that under its international consumer finance business, “the net loss of $99 million was mainly due to an increase in credit costs of 92 per cent, primarily driven by India, and a repositioning charge.”

In the financial year ended March 31, 2008, Citibank India reported a 100 per cent jump in its net profit to Rs 1,804 crore, against Rs 900 crore in the previous year.

Source: TheHinduBusinessLine

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