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Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser says of moves to shrink retail banking footprint: ‘We want to be a winner’

Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser said that she decided to exit the bank’s retail operations in 13 countries outside the U.S. to improve returns.

One of the biggest priorities for Fraser, who took over for predecessor Michael Corbat in February, is to bring New York-based Citigroup’s returns closer to those of peers including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.

“As we look at the businesses over a decade ahead, we want to be a winner,” Fraser told CNBC’s Wilfred Frost on “Closing Bell” in her first televised interview since officially starting as CEO.

“We want to close the return gap with our peers,” Fraser said. “To do that you take a candid assessment of which of the businesses that you’re going to be in a position to succeed in winning, and which ones are perhaps in better hands with another bank.”

Last week, Citi said it was exiting retail banking in 13 countries outside the U.S. to focus more on wealth management, one of the first big strategic moves made by Fraser. The lender also reported first-quarter results that exceeded analysts’ estimates for profit with strong investment banking revenue and a bigger-than-expected release of loan-loss reserves.

There are clear areas of opportunity for Citigroup, the third largest U.S. bank by assets behind JPMorgan and Bank of America, the CEO said.

The bank is “doubling down” in areas including its global institutional banking business and wealth management in Asia and the U.S., she said.

And Fraser isn’t done with her strategic review that could see more business divestitures, she said: There is “more to come, for sure” in terms of announcements, she said.  

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