Relief for Asian bankers as Citi’s regional revenues rise

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Relief for Asian bankers as Citi’s regional revenues rise

Citi’s 2019 revenues in Asia were up 5% year-on-year, despite the difficult macro environment in Greater China over the past 12 months, which featured escalating US-China trade tensions and a recession in Hong Kong, triggered by the territory’s civil unrest.

Citi makes more money in Asia than any US bank, so its results serve as a bellwether for the region’s finance sector. Amid a torrent of negative political and economic news, Hong Kong bankers will be somewhat cheered that Citi performed fairly well in 2019.

Last year Citi made $16,005m in Asian revenues compared with $15,280m in 2018 – the 5% increase was more than the 2% rises Citi achieved in both North America and EMEA, according to its 2019 earnings report. Asian revenues stood at $14,633m in 2017 and $13,720m in 2016, so the 2019 results are also strong in an historical context.

There was more specific good news for (non-retail) bankers and traders at Citi. The institutional clients group (which houses Citi’s investment bank, private bank and markets units) in Asia helped to drive the overall regional revenue increase. Asian ICG revenues were up 7% year-on-year to $8,670m, which potentially bodes well for the group's bonus pool.

Citi ranked sixth, with a 4.8% market share, for 2019 APAC (ex-Japan) investment banking revenue, according to data provider Dealogic. In consumer banking, Citi’s Asian revenues only increased by 2% to $7,335m.

Citi’s results don’t break out revenues by individual markets, but in late December sources told the Financial Times that revenues from Hong Kong (Citi’s fourth largest market behind the US, UK and Mexico) were up 8% year-on-year for Q3, putting Citi on course to exceed its 2019 revenue targets.

Angel Ng, Citi’s Hong Kong and Macau chief executive, said in the FT report that Hong Kong remained crucial to the bank’s global strategy. Citi won business in 2019 by helping corporate clients find solutions to Asia’s current challenges, such as adjusting supply chains to protect against US or Chinese tariffs, she added.

Photo by Glaiza Bernaldez on Unsplash

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