Eighteen months into a two-year plan to rebuild its weakened capital base, Citicorp seems to be on target with a key goal: shedding "nonstrategic assets.
The nation's biggest bank company estimates that it has raised the equivalent of $1.6 billion of core capital through asset sales since January 1991. When newly issued equity and the effects of a dividend suspension are added in, Citicorp has pushed its Tier 1 capital ratio above the 4% benchmark.
The Federal Reserve Board requires bank companies to meet the 4% mark by the end of this year. Citicorp, which had previously minimized the need for strong capital reserves, now hopes to "substantially exceed" the Fed guideline in 1993.
The bank has unloaded about 12 business lines and pieces of real estate - fulfilling asset-disposition targets outlined last year by Citicorp chairman John S. Reed. He said that the company had a list of 12 to 15 things that could be sold.
Widely Varied Businesses
Sales have ranged from such capital-intensive businesses as AMBAC, the municipal bond insurance company that was taken public last year, to its stake in the Brazilian telephone company and equity holdings in First Interstate Bancorp, Los Angeles.
The focus, of course, has been on shedding businesses against which the company has to hold big reserves of capital - and some of the results show it.
For example, Citicorp took a hit last quarter on its sale of Capmac, its corporate bond insurer, according to an internal memo by senior managing director Rodney Ballek.
But, Mr. Ballek wrote, "the loss on the sale is more than outweighed by the $3 billion reduction in risk assets, the $500 million reduction in classified exposure, and the long-tail risk of the portfolio, which would have required continual monitoring had we attempted to liquidate the business."
Citicorp is also facing the prospect of a loss on Quotron, the last remaining big business known to be on the block. The company has already taken a charge of more than $400 million to restructure the unit.
To be sure, many of Citicorp's assets have been sold at a profit. The bank company booked a gain of $203 million in late 1991 on a stake in the Saudi American Bank. And a few weeks after it unloaded Capmac, the banking giant sold Citicorp Establishment Services, its merchant card processing company, for a profitable $175 million.
Asset sales also help Citicorp cut its work force, contributing to another of the company's ongoing goals - reduced operating costs.
When the bank sold a portion of its Lynch, Jones & Ryan brokerage subsidiary in December 1991, it pocketed less than $15 million. That's small change for a $217 billion bank - but the move pared 60 people from Citicorp's payroll.
Moreover, many analysts now say that some of their fears about the asset sale program, most notably that Citicorp would sell off valuable units, were overblown.
"The striking thing is how peripheral are the things they have sold," said David Berry, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. "This does not alter the heart of the franchise."
What else might be sold besides Quotron? Citicorp isn't tipping its hand, but there are options.
Mr. Reed told analysts last month that Citicorp holds Latin American investments acquired through debt-equity swaps that are now worth more than the loans they stemmed from.
Another possibility is Citicorp's bank in Arizona, according to Diane Glossman, an analyst at Salomon Brothers.