OneMain Financial, Citigroup's consumer-lending arm, filed for a $50 million initial public offering in the U.S.

The amount is a placeholder used to calculate fees and may change. OneMain has a value of at least $4 billion, people with knowledge of the matter have said, and Citigroup is also considering an outright sale of the business. Citigroup is currently the only adviser on the IPO, according to a regulatory filing today.

Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat said in May that the bank could exit OneMain through a sale or public offering by the end of this year or early 2015 because the unit doesn't fit with its business model. Exploring both a sale and an IPO, known as a dual-track process, can help propel a deal by pressuring buyers to act before a stock offering puts the company in the hands of public investors.

OneMain is part of Citi Holdings, the unit Citigroup created after the financial crisis to house unwanted assets. The business makes personal loans of $3,000 to $15,000 to people with less-than-stellar credit from more than 1,100 branches.

Consumer-finance companies have raised more than $5 billion in U.S. share sales this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Auto-lenders Santander Consumer USA and Ally Financial are down more than 15 percent since their IPOs. Synchrony Financial, the consumer-lending business spun off by General Electric in a July IPO, is up about 8 percent since its debut.

Citigroup shares were unchanged at $51.27 in early trading today, giving the bank a $155.3 billion market value.

"We view the sale of OneMain Financial as a positive given the business is not considered core and a sale would quicken the winding down of Citi Holdings, which is a positive for the stock longer term," Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Brian Kleinhanzl wrote in a note to clients.

Citigroup tried to sell OneMain more than two years ago, failing to reach a deal with bidders including Centerbridge Capital Partners, Leucadia National and Berkshire Hathaway, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News at the time.

Since then, the bank has issued at least two bond deals backed by its personal loans, proving that the business can fund itself.

OneMain does not intend to pay dividends, according to today's filing. Citigroup, which will continue to control OneMain after the IPO, has been prevented from increasing shareholder payouts by the Federal Reserve.

OneMain may be subject to those and other banking rules until regulators decide that Citigroup no longer controls the firm, a subjective decision that could be reserved until the lender's ownership stake falls below 5 percent, the firm said.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.