Citi to team up with Indian bank to support female entrepreneurs, CEO Fraser Says

Citigroup Inc. plans to unveil a partnership with a bank in India to fund female small-business owners in the country, part of its financing work for enterprises including automakers and parts suppliers across Asia, Central America and elsewhere.

“We’re going to be providing capital to more than 300,000 female entrepreneurs in rural India, and that will help them grow their small business and increase their participation in global trade,” Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser said Thursday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in San Francisco. She didn’t identify the Indian bank.

Fraser touted Citigroup’s clients in 160 countries and jurisdictions and emphasized their dependence on trade and supply chains, noting that “geopolitical and macroeconomic shocks that we’ve had of late” have made it harder to source and move manufactured goods. Her New York-based bank recently helped finance an auto-parts plant in Guanajuato, Mexico, for a Korean firm, and is working with electric-vehicle makers to open factories and stores in Thailand, she said.

“It should come as no surprise that Citi is a strong advocate for a world that continues to collaborate across borders and engage,” Fraser said. “True resilience, it comes from open markets, it comes from robust and diversified supply chains. So a decoupling of the world’s dominant economies is neither possible nor is it prudent.”

This year’s APEC conference has been the focus of global attention, with Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping using the event for their first meeting in a year in a bid to ease US-China tensions that have threatened economic growth worldwide. Later Wednesday, Xi had dinner with US business leaders including Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook and BlackRock Inc.’s Larry Fink.

A month ago, Fraser initiated the biggest restructuring of Citigroup in two decades as she seeks to simplify the firm and boost returns. The bank intends to cut back to eight layers from 13 as part of the work. Fraser has said Citigroup is doing away with as many co-heads as possible to ensure there are “single points of accountability” across the firm.With the moves, Citigroup is abandoning its two core operating units and instead focusing on five key businesses: trading, banking, services, wealth management and US consumer offerings. Fraser also is weighing whether to shutter the firm’s municipal-bond trading and origination business, which for decades was a powerhouse in the $4 trillion market for US state and local debt, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month, citing people familiar with the matter.

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