By Xie Yu

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -Citigroup Inc will wind down its consumer banking business in China in a move that will affect about 1,200 local employees, the bank said on Thursday.

The group had announced plans in April 2021 to exit its Chinese consumer banking business as part of a global strategy to withdraw from consumer franchises in 14 markets in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Mexico.

Citi will explore options for around 1,200 employees who will be affected, including helping them continue to work at Citi in China or across the bank’s global network, it said in a statement.

The exit will also affect deposits, insurance, mortgages, investments, loans and cards at the consumer banking business.

“While we explored multiple strategic options for our China consumer business over the past several months, we believe that this path makes the most sense and we are focused on a seamless transition for our clients, partners and colleagues,” said Titi Cole, Citi’s CEO of Legacy Franchises.

As part of the wind down process, Citi will continue to pursue sales of portfolios within its Chinese consumer banking business, the statement said.

Previously announced wind downs of Citi’s consumer business in South Korea and overall presence in Russia are in progress, while sales agreements of consumer banking businesses have been signed in nine markets and have closed in five, including Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Bahrain, said the statement.

As part of its strategy refresh, Citi is bolstering its institutional banking and wealth management businesses.

It plans to hire around 3,000 staff for its Asia institutional business in the next few years, Asia-Pacific CEO Peter Babej told Reuters in June.

Citi said last year that $7 billion in capital released from divestments of consumer banking businesses would be either returned to shareholders or invested in institutional banking and wealth management units.

(Reporting by Xie YuEditing by Anshuman Daga and Mark Potter)