To boost its retail banking business in Japan, Citicorp will form an alliance with a Japanese home builder to provide mortgages, the bank has announced.

Beginning Aug. 10, the U.S. bank will offer loans of $34,000 to $690,000 to Asahi Chemical Industry Co.'s customers.

Interest rates on one-year adjustable loans will be 1.85%; most Japanese banks charge 2.6%.

Asahi Chemical said it hopes the lower rates will help stimulate weak housing demand amid Japan's recession. Citicorp, which has the largest retail banking network of any foreign bank in Japan, began offering housing loans to individual Japanese buyers in 1995.

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