Citigroup profits drop after MSSB stake writedown

A Citibank sign
Image caption Despite the writedown, the results were better than had been expected

Citigroup's three-month profits have dropped after the bank wrote down the value of its stake in a brokerage.

Net income for the three months to the end of September fell to $468m (£291m) from $3.8bn in the same period of 2011.

Citigroup took a $4.7bn hit from reducing the value of its stake in the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (MSSB) joint venture, which it is selling.

But the results were still ahead of analysts' expectations and the bank's shares rose 5.5% in New York.

Citigroup reported improved revenues from mortgages in North America.

Excluding one-off items, Citigroup's net income came in at $3.3bn.

The profitability of the bank's loans, excluding credit losses, rose as Citi cut its funding costs by taking in more low-cost deposits.

Deposits rose 11% to $945bn at the end of September from a year earlier.

Analyst Todd Hagerman from brokerage Sterne Agee said Citi now had enough capital to make a case to regulators that it should be allowed to pay 15 cents a share in its quarterly dividend next year, up from its current, nominal one cent.

Financial buffer

In September, Citigroup announced that it had agreed a price to sell its 49% stake in MSSB to Morgan Stanley.

As a result, it said that it would reduce the value it attributed to the holding by about 40%.

The joint venture was established in 2009 as a way for Citi to shrink its balance sheet during the financial crisis by transferring its Smith Barney brokerage to Morgan Stanley.

Announcing its results, Citi said it had increased its "buffer" against risk so that it now held 8.6% of assets in almost risk-free form.

Citigroup's chief executive, Vikram Pandit, said that the uncertain economy meant the bank was taking a cautious approach to business: "We are managing risk very carefully, given global economic conditions, so we can continue to grow our businesses safely and soundly."

In August, Citigroup paid $590m to shareholders who had accused the bank of hiding the scale of its exposure to sub-prime mortgages.

Citi denied the allegation but said it wanted to avoid further legal costs.

The payout is one of the biggest settlements connected to the global financial crisis which began four years ago.

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