Citigroup (NYSE:C) has put a halt to its sweeping cost-cutting program long enough to open a handful of U.S. branches.
The nation's third-largest bank announced plans in December to cut 11,000 jobs and close 84 branches, including 44 in the United States. Meanwhile, it is marginally expanding its presence in cities that it considers "key markets" as part of new Chief Executive Michael Corbat's bid to shore up the bank's traditional core of wealthy and international retail customers.
Since Corbat announced his cuts in early December, Citigroup has opened five branches, bringing its total global branch count to 1,000, the bank said late Thursday. The new locations are in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Philadelphia.
"These openings are part of our strategy to serve clients with excellence throughout the world's top cities," Cece Stewart, the head of Citigroup's U.S. consumer and commercial banking, said in a press release.
Stewart, the lone woman on Citigroup's 24-person operating committee, is under pressure to improve the U.S. retail bank's results, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. A Citigroup spokeswoman declined to comment on the article.
At the same time that it opened the five new branches, Citigroup has made plans to close others in some of the same regions. The bank said in December it would close 13 branches in the largely-affluent suburbs around Philadelphia.
Some of the announced closings will not happen until March. Citigroup's overall branch network has shrunk by 17 locations since the end of the third quarter, when former CEO Vikram Pandit was abruptly ousted and Corbat was installed to speed up the bank's turnaround from the financial crisis.
Corbat appears to have plenty of challenges ahead. He told investors this month that he was "disappointed" by the bank's fourth-quarter profit, which missed expectations. "Things will remain challenging going forward for a period of time. Our people recognize that," he told Bloomberg News at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday.