April 25, 2024

Citigroup to launch investment banking unit

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Citigroup plans to deepen its involvement in China’s financial markets with the launch of an investment banking unit in the country, even as rivals grow more cautious there.

The large US bank intends to launch the wholly owned China-based unit by the end of the year, according to a person familiar with the situation. The business would expand Citi’s business in China, which already includes corporate lending and other banking services.

Citi’s application for a brokerage license was conditionally approved in late December, a decision that enables it to start hiring employees for the new unit, according to a filing on China Securities Regulatory Commission’s website and the person familiar with the situation.

The move comes as other large US banks are becoming more tentative about operations in China and Western banks struggle to gain traction there.

Here’s what else I will be keeping tabs on today:

  • Earnings guidance: Fourth-quarter pre-earnings guidance for South Korea’s Samsung and LG Korean Electronics are due, with full results expected later this month.

  • Fast Retail sales: Figures from last month are set to be released today.

  • US jobs report: Investors will be watching Friday’s release of December’s non-farm payrolls data.

Be more financially confident this year by signing up to our new six-part newsletter series with Claer Barrett, the FT’s consumer editor. Claer will guide you through managing a budget, buying a house, investing and saving for your retirement. Join here.

Five more top stories

1. China spent $5.5mn at properties owned by Donald Trump while he was president, according to a report released by congressional Democrats yesterday. China was one of 20 foreign governments that spent at least $7.8mn in total at Trump-owned entities during the Trump administration. Learn the key takeaways from the 156-page report.

  • More US politics: Donald Trump asked the US Supreme Court to overturn a decision to ban him from Colorado’s presidential primary ballot, one day after he appealed a separate, similar move by Maine’s secretary of state.

2. Isis has claimed responsibility for two bombings in southern Iran on Wednesday that killed almost 100 people in the deadliest attack in the Islamic republic for decades. The statement, which was posted on Isis-affiliated Telegram channels, claimed two suicide bombers had killed scores of “polytheist” Shia Muslims in the explosions. Read the full story.

  • Middle East tensions: The US military has killed a high-ranking commander of an Iran-backed militia in Iraq, saying an air strike on the group’s logistics headquarters in central Baghdad was done in “self defence” after the faction conducted attacks on American personnel.

3. China’s services sector activity expanded at the fastest pace in five months in December, according to a widely watched private survey. The expansion offers some optimism as policymakers in Beijing seek to stimulate a faltering recovery in the world’s second-largest economy. This was the 12th consecutive month that activity expanded. Read what analysts had to say.

4. Rishi Sunak has signalled that Britain’s general election will take place in the autumn, saying his “working assumption” was that the UK would go to the polls in the “second half of this year”. Sunak also used the remarks yesterday to hint at future tax cuts and to criticise Labour’s plans for green infrastructure spending.

5. Newly released court documents provided a fresh glimpse into the lurid world of the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his dealings with a cast of powerful men, from Wall Street figures to former president Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew. Here’s what we discovered in the documents released late Wednesday in New York.

How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take our quiz.

The Big Read

A collage of 10 trends
© FT montage/AFP/Getty Images/Bloomberg/Reuters

In the end, 2023 was a reminder that most years turn out to be a mix of the surprising and the predictable. The year played out as if the pandemic had never happened. Markets surged, and the widely anticipated global recession never came. But not all the purely contrarian bets would have paid off: Europe’s economy fell farther behind the US, and American megacap tech stocks again led the charge. What trends will evolve this year? Ruchir Sharma gives his top 10 predictions for 2024.

We’re also reading . . . 

Chart of the day

Column chart of sales by quarter ('000) showing BYD has surpassed Tesla in quarterly deliveries

Once ridiculed by Elon Musk, China’s BYD is now the biggest producer of battery-powered cars in the world. The story of Wang Chuanfu, the professor-turned-executive who has driven BYD’s rise over the past decade, has become gospel in Chinese business schools. Edward White and Peter Campbell profile the man simply known as “The Chairman”.

Take a break from the news

Don’t miss this beautifully written story in HTSI’s Body Issue: “The most electrifying footballers are not simply those who have an otherworldly alliance with the ball itself but those who are, as the philosopher Simon Critchley has observed, expert interpreters and visionary manipulators of space,” writes Lola Seaton.

Muddy Dance © Erik Kessels

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Additional reporting by Tee Zhuo and Emily Goldberg

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