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C Citigroup


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C Citigroup

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Citi Strengthens Its Balance Sheet for Future Payouts (C)


Quoting 
Citigroup (NYSE: C ) is looking to shore up its capital base further by selling off non-core assets, as the bank failed to clear the recent round of Federal Reserve stress tests -- which meant the Fed wouldn't allow it to carry out plans to increase its dividend payments or buy back shares.

Citi is busy reducing its stake in a number of businesses around the globe. Last week, the company sold its 2.7% share in Shanghai Pudong Development Bank for $668 million. That follows Citi's sale last month of a 9.9% share in India's largest mortgage lender, Housing Development Finance Corporation, raising $1.9 billion.

Citigroup is also looking to cut its investment in Turkish lender Akbank, reducing its ownership stake from 20% to less than 10%. However, that sale that is subject to regulatory approval, which will come at a cost, as Citi's expected to take on a one-time charge of $700 million in its first quarter.

And that's still not all. Nomura Holdings analyst Glenn Schorr said Citigroup is looking to sell the remainder of its stake in retail brokerage unit Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, its joint venture with Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS ) . (Citi was already slated to sell more than 14% of its holding in the brokerage to Morgan Stanley.) Credit Suisse analyst Howard Chen valued the unit at $15 billion in January, whereas JMP Securities analyst David Trone, in a note in February, valued it at $24 billion.

Citigroup isn't the only bank looking to shed assets, though: Fellow banking behemoth Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) is doing much the same. Although B of A passed this round of stress tests, it has for now chosen to toughen up its capital position further to meet international standards and cope with mortgage losses rather than apply to pay out higher dividends. Recently, the bank sold off its Irish credit card business to an Apollo Capital Management fund. The sale, according to the Charlotte Business Journal, is a part of CEO Brian Moynihan's strategy to do away with non-core assets and strengthen its balance sheet.

No dividends? So what?
Although Citi's unable to pay out higher dividends, it will eventually look to raise its payout. Currently, Citi pays out a symbolic dividend of $0.04 that translates into a yield of just 0.1%. Through the sale of these non-core assets, the bank is looking to bolster its balance sheet so it can increase its dividends and payout in the future -- and that's something investors can look forward to. This is the right call for the long run. Do you agree?

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Citigroup Willing to Sell All of Smith Barney, Schorr Says - Bloomberg


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Citigroup Inc. (C) signaled interest in selling its remaining stake in a brokerage joint venture to Morgan Stanley this year, said Glenn Schorr, a Nomura Holdings Inc. analyst.

Citigroup Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach and Chief Operating Officer John Havens indicated a willingness to sell more than the scheduled 14 percent stake in Morgan Stanley Smith Barney if Morgan Stanley makes an attractive offer, Schorr wrote in a note to clients today, citing a recent meeting with the executives.

Morgan Stanley has the option to buy a 14 percent stake in the joint venture in May, increasing its ownership to 65 percent, and can purchase the business outright over the next two years. In 2009, Morgan Stanley (MS) bought a controlling stake in the joint venture, which has more than 17,000 advisers and $1.65 trillion in client assets.
The firms would have to renegotiate their existing deal, and Morgan Stanley, which got Federal Reserve approval for acquiring the 14 percent stake, would have to submit a new capital plan to regulators, according to a person briefed on the situation who declined to be named because an agreement hasnít been reached.

Jim Wiggins, a spokesman for New York-based Morgan Stanley, declined to comment on whether the firm was interested in buying the rest of Citigroupís stake. Shannon Bell, a spokeswoman for Citigroup, also declined to comment.

Under the current agreement, New York-based Citigroup and Morgan Stanley will submit their estimates of the fair value of the brokerage. If the estimates are within 10 percent of each other, the stake will be sold at the average of the two estimates, according to the person. If the difference is more than 10 percent, the firms would bring in an outside appraiser, the person said.

Value Estimates
Howard Chen, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), estimated the value of the brokerage at $15 billion in a January note to clients. David Trone, a JMP Securities analyst, said in a note the following month that the unit is worth $24 billion.

Morgan Stanleyís global wealth management division, which is mostly composed of the brokerage, had a 10 percent pretax profit margin in 2011, well below Chief Executive Officer James Gormanís goal of more than 20 percent. Greg Fleming, who runs the division, has vowed to increase that to a margin in the ďmid-teensĒ by the first half of next year regardless of the marketís performance.

The firmís shares, which climbed 33 percent this year through yesterday, slid 1.1 percent to $19.85 at 9:51 a.m. in New York. Citigroup, up 44 percent this year through yesterday, fell 1 percent to $37.42.

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C vs XLF (green line panel 1)



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I sold short 42.29 few days ago, no stop, terrible mistake

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