Citigroup Inc. (C) has appointed Hong Kong-based Jonathan Larsen to global head of retail banking as Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit pushes deeper into Asia for revenue growth.
Larsen will keep his position as head of consumer banking for the Asia-Pacific region, according to an internal memo obtained Tuesday by Bloomberg News. Jon Diat, a spokesman for New York-based Citigroup, confirmed the contents of the memo.
Pandit, 55, and global consumer-banking chief Manuel Medina-Mora are seeking to boost profit by increasing loans in Asia and Latin America. With Wall Street banks targeting emerging markets for revenue growth, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in April that its global head of investment banking would move to Hong Kong.
"Jonathan and the retail-banking business unit will work to develop global platforms that enable effective, efficient and universal execution" of the bank's global strategy, Medina-Mora said in the memo. "The success of our consumer and commercial banking businesses will be based on our ability to execute on our strategy to harness the power of one global business and operating model."
Citigroup plans to invest $3 billion to $4 billion in consumer banking over the next two to three years, mainly in emerging markets, Medina-Mora said last year. About half of that probably will go to Asia, a person with knowledge of the matter said at the time.
Average loans to consumers outside the U.S. jumped 23 percent to $136 billion in the two years ended March 31, the bank said in a quarterly presentation in April. First-quarter profit at the Asian consumer bank unit climbed 11 percent to $503 million from a year ago.
Larsen joined the company in 1998 and became head of Asia Pacific consumer banking in 2009. The Financial Times reported his appointment earlier.
JPMorgan in April said Jeff Urwin, global head of investment banking, would move to Hong Kong to be Asia CEO while keeping his global role. Goldman Sachs this month named Mark Schwartz to run its Asian business from Beijing, its first regional chairman to be based in the capital city.
Citigroup has been bolstering its consumer business in Asia to tap growing wealth in the region. The lender last year introduced measures targeting what it called Asia's "emerging affluent" people — those with net worth of $10,000 to $100,000.
As part of the plan, it expanded branch hours, introduced 24-hour phone banking services and converted outlets to what it calls "smart branches" featuring teleconferencing equipment and staff using touch-screen tablet computers to display Citigroup's online services.
Citigroup has opened more than 100 smart branches in Asia, where it operates about 700 outlets, according to James Griffiths, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for the bank.