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Asia round-up: Tough start for Citi

It hasn’t been the easiest of starts to 2006 for Citigroup in Asia, with continuing integration challenges at its Korean banking acquisition and difficult negotiations with existing and future partners over its China strategy [see Citigroup fails to solve the China conundrum, this issue]. Now Citi’s China strategy will need to be reconsidered after the departures of chief rainmakers Francis Leung and Wei Christianson.

Although few tears will be shed over the exit of Christianson who, as expected, has headed back to Morgan Stanley after the reinstallation of her mentor John Mack, Leung is a different proposition. The ex-Peregrine banker was instrumental in winning several key China mandates for Citi and his relationship with Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest man, is second to none.

Citi is keen to stress that Leung will continue in an advisory role, although insiders admit that the loss of his full-time services is a severe blow. Leung is rumoured to be considering a new role in private equity, probably in China.

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