The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Citigroup fails to solve the China conundrum

The US bank has made an expensive foray into China’s banking market, with little to show from two-and-a-half years’ work and millions of dollars spent.

Citigroup is used to getting its own way, so its recent travails in China must be painful. It made its China move earlier than its rivals, most conspicuously HSBC, by buying a 4.62% interest in Shanghai Pudong Development Bank in 2003. But Citigroup has failed to capitalize on its head start, despite strenuous claims to the contrary.

One statistic tells the story. Citigroup’s credit card joint venture with SPDB, the key reason for its original investment, boasts 300,000 jointly issued cards. In a little less than a quarter of that time, HSBC’s credit card business with its partner Bank of Communications, China’s fifth-largest lender, has issued more than 650,000 joint cards. HSBC and Bank of Communications already enjoy significant levels of cooperation in other areas too, principally retail and commercial banking.

Stung by its rival’s success, Citigroup now wants to swap partners and is in the final throes of an investment in Guangdong Development Bank (GDB), China’s 11th-largest lender, in which, if it gets its way, it aims to exert management control.

Chinese wives are not easily jilted, however, and SPDB is exacting a high price for Citigroup’s infidelity, forcing the bank to exercise its option to purchase 19.9%

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree