Citigroup (NYSE:C) is opening an office in Baghdad.
The nation's third-biggest bank by assets said Monday that the Central Bank of Iraq has preliminarily approved the company's application to open the outpost, which would serve corporate customers.
Citigroup would be the first American bank to open an office of its own in the Iraqi capital since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003, according to the Associated Press, which first reported the company's plans. It also hopes to open offices in the Iraqi cities of Basra and Erbil, the AP reported.
The move comes amid a strengthening of Iraq's economy, which is expected to grow by about 9% this year, according to Reuters. The oil sector provides Iraq with more than 90% of government revenue and 80% of foreign exchange earnings, according to the C.I.A. World Fact Book.
"Iraq is an important market, with an economy that has substantial potential over time," James Cowles, Citigroup's chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said in a press release. "Having a presence in Iraq will position us to better attune our services to the banking needs of our clients as they grow and develop their businesses in the country."
Britain's Standard Chartered Bank reportedly also plans to open branches in Baghdad, Basra and Erbil.
Citigroup's push into Iraq follows the company's paring last year of branches in several countries, including Brazil, Turkey and Uruguay.