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The rush for retail

Citibank opened its first retail branch in Moscow in November as Russia's leading commercial banks begin to slug it out for Russia's retail banking business.

The branch is not for everyone. The names of its two tiers of service - Citi-gold and Citi-platinum - give the game away; with Soviet-era big bank Sberbank dominating the mass market, Russia's commercial banks are aiming at the increasingly wealthy middle class, for whom service is as important as solidity.


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Recent economic growth "has made it possible for Citibank to bring here the same kind of services that we offer to over 100 million clients all over the world," Citibank's president for Russia Allan Hirst said at the opening.

A Hungarian model Citibank is hoping to repeat the success it has had in Hungary, where it opened its first retail branch in 1995.

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