SEATTLE - Citicorp aims to cut roughly $2 billion, or about 20%, from its cost base over the next four to five years, chairman John Reed said in an interview at the International Monetary Conference.

Even so, he said, net expenses will be about 1% higher at the end of the period because the cost reductions will be offset by an underlying yearly growth rate in expenses of about 6%.

"My belief is that over a four-to-five-year period we ought to be able to reduce our costs. We will have growth pushing the other direction, but there's a core set of costs I just believe we can get out."

Pressed for a rough estimate, Mr. Reed said, "I'd do $2 billion."

Mr. Reed also said Citicorp has no plans to buy a bank in Mexico.

"We could conceivably buy a bank in Mexico, but we are not looking. We have no plans," he said. "I would be quite surprised if we would do anything in the next couple of years."

American Banker recently quoted an analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas as saying that a number of U.S. banks are considering acquiring Mexican banks following a change in investment laws. - Reuters

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