Citibank Korea CEO Yoo Myung-soon (Citibank Korea)
Citibank Korea suggested that its workers consider voluntary retirement in a recent email sent to its employees, sources said on June 16, as the firm prepares to sell off its consumer banking business.
“Our executives understand your concerns due to the announcement concerning Citigroup’s pursuit of a consumer banking business exit strategy here,” Citibank Korea CEO Yoo Myung-soon said in the email, written in Korean.
“We will make our best efforts to hold onto our employees through a retention of our workforce in the sales process, voluntary retirement and reshuffling,” she added.
Citibank Korea told reporters last month, also via email, that potential bidders remained pessimistic about retaining all employees.
That earlier message fueled concerns about massive layoffs, but with the firm putting voluntary retirement on the table, industry watchers said the option could pave a smoother road toward an exit.
Yoo explained that the firm would put “employment stability” above everything else in the sales process and had yet to review any plans that involved a nonvoluntary reduction of the workforce.
If Citibank Korea officially starts accepting voluntary retirement applications from employees, it would be the first time since 2014. Some 650 employees accepted early retirement packages in 2014 when the firm offered to pay 36 to 60 months’ salary in advance. The amounts varied according to years of service.
As of end-2020, over 70 percent of Citibank Korea’s 3,500 employees and executives were part of its consumer banking business.
Citibank Korea said earlier that the details of its exit plan would be revealed next month. It will prioritize bidders seeking acquisition of the entire retail banking business rather than parts of it. It has also put a complete pullout of its retail business “in phases” as a viable option on the table as well, hinting that it would rather pursue an exit than carry out a subpar deal.
A list of potential bidders has yet to be disclosed.
Citibank Korea is a wholly owned subsidiary of Citibank Overseas Investment Corp., based in the US state of Delaware. It was launched in 2004, decades after Citigroup opened its first branch here in 1967.
Citibank Korea’s net profit in the January-March period fell 19 percent on-year to 48.2 billion won ($43.2 million) and its total assets shed 0.9 percent to 51.7 trillion won in the same period.
By Jung Min-kyung (email@example.com)