Ailing Citigroup Inc. continues to look for ways to bolster its finances.
The New York company will reportedly divest Nikko Cordial Securities Inc. and could start accepting bids for the brokerage unit as early as this month in a move that could reshape the Japanese financial services industry, The Nikkei reported in its Tuesday morning edition.
Sources familiar with the matter say Citigroup aims to divest Nikko Cordial in stages.
Japan's three megabanks — Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Mizuho Financial Group Inc., and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. — are expected to be the main bidders, and the auction could last months. The purchase price is likely to reach several hundred billion yen.
Citigroup has not announced an intention to sell Nikko Cordial.
Separately, former Citi chairman and chief executive Sandy Weill said he is giving up his right to use the company's aircraft. Mr. Weill said this is the latest perquisite he will give up that had been part of his contract with the ailing financial services giant he built.
Citi also is in the midst of combining its Smith Barney brokerage unit with Morgan Stanley's and is looking to sell other businesses so it can focus on investment banking, credit cards, and regional banking operations.
Mr. Weill's announcement Monday came just days after Citigroup was criticized for its plan to buy a $50 million jet. The company later announced it will not take delivery of the aircraft.
Aircraft perks also became a sour note at the nation's automakers once their top executives flew to Washington on separate private jets to lobby for billions in government aid. The backlash prompted the companies to say they will sell their jet fleets.
Mr. Weill's office said in a statement Monday morning that, "in light of the unprecedented circumstances that Citi finds itself in," he decided to immediately stop using Citi aircraft.
The office called it the latest step by Mr. Weill to pare his perks at the company. In 2006 he agreed to reduce his use of the corporate aircraft. In August he approached Citigroup to end a consulting agreement. The deal's benefits, which include access to corporate facilities and services, expire in April.
Nikko Cordial, one of Japan's top three brokerages, counted 111 branches and roughly $278 billion of investor assets at Dec. 31. Each megabank already has its own securities firm, but acquiring Nikko Cordial would go a long way toward closing the gap with industry leader Nomura Holdings Inc. Citigroup spent roughly $13.4 billion in January 2008 to make Nikko Cordial a wholly owned subsidiary.