The Treasury Department's refusal to sell its 34% stake in Citigroup Inc. is hampering the banking company's plan to repay the remaining $20 billion of bailout funds, people familiar with the company said.

Executives at New York-based Citi are growing frustrated because they cannot sell stock to raise money for repayment until the Treasury signals when and how it will unload its 7.7 billion shares, said the people, who declined to be named because the matter is under discussion. Investors may be reluctant to buy shares because a Treasury sale could cut the price.

"The ball is in the government's court," said Chris Kotowski, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York. "It's not Citibank's decision to sell them or not sell them."

At the current market price, the Treasury's shares are worth about $31.2 billion. Meg Reilly, a Treasury spokeswoman, declined to say whether the government has sold any shares or when it may do so. Treasury officials do not want to sell Citigroup shares until the company's executives and regulators have agreed on how such a sale would fit a broader plan to repay the bailout cash, a person close to the department said.

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