Citi may relocate some overseas units to PH

By Lawrence Agcaoili, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 28 2012 07:04 AM | Updated as of Mar 28 2012 06:10 PM

MANILA, Philippines - American banking giant Citibank NA is planning to relocate some of its overseas operations to the Philippines on the back of the country’s sound macroeconomic fundamentals and skilled workforce.

Citibank chief executive officer Eugene McQuade said in a press conference that the banking giant is looking at transferring some of its overseas operations to the Philippines where it intends to beef up its existing number of workers.

“We can also expect to see an increase in the number of employees in our Centers of Excellence including our business process outsourcing arm, as more businesses locate their services here,” McQuade stressed.

He pointed out that the Philippines is one of the key markets in the region where Citi has a strong legacy of success since 1902 and is the country’s largest foreign banks in terms of customers, assets, revenues, and domestic branches.

He added that Citi has consistently ranked among the top five commercial banks in terms of profitability and top 10 in terms of assets, deposits, and loans.

Citi currently employs close to 6,000 workers in the Philippines half of which are within the group’s banking operations while the other half is working for its business process outsourcing (BPO) business.

“We have a large facility for our backroom services for Asia with 3,000 shared service center employees. We will shift some of our services in other countries into the Philippines where there is good quality of employees and services,” he added.

The Philippines serves as Citi’s regional hub for Citi Shared Services (CSS), Citi Employee Service (CES), Asia Pacific Credit Risk Management services and analysis, Asia Pacific Compliance Center of Excellence, and Citi Center for Advanced Learning.

The CSS is its global processing center performing financial reporting operations and payment services, supporting 92 countries across the Americas, Asia Pacific, Japan, Europe, Middle East, and Africa while the CES is its regional processing center for employee data, HR Administration and payroll services for 62 countries across the Asia Pacific, Japan, Europe, Middle East, and Africa,

Citi Business Process Solutions is another Philippine-based entity which provides BPO, sales, service, collections, credit operations and back office operations for various Citi entities around the globe including Australia, the United States and Guam. CBPS set up the regional CitiPhone Command Center serving 12 countries in Asia Pacific through workforce management, planning and scheduling initiatives.

McQuade said the banking giant sees global economic growth slowing down to 2.5 percent this year from three percent last year but would be led by emerging market economies including the Philippines.

“2012 would be a year of slowing global growth but with wide divergence between emerging and developed countries. Emerging markets like the Philippines has been the major drivers since the crisis,” he said.

Citi country officer Sanjiv Vohra told reporters that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) would expand by 4.2 percent amid external developments led by the rising oil prices in the world market.

“We have great confidence in our ability to thrive no matter what happens in the global economy. It has shown it right through the crisis, we’ve seen positive growth in 2008 and 2009 so we are quite confident about the Philippines’ growth over the next two years,” he said.

The Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) sees the country’s GDP growing between five percent and six percent this year after slackening to 3.7 percent last year from 7.6 percent in 2010 due to weak global trade and cautious spending by the Philippine government.

He pointed out that the Philippine capital market is off to a healthy start in 2012 and that Citi would continue to leverage on global leadership to lead and support business initiatives as well as initiatives in the equity markets.

“The Philippines is enjoying a great deal of interest from investors at the moment and we continue to take the lead in episodic deals,” he said referring to the deals involving the national government, port giant ICTSI, and SM Investments Corp. of retail magnate Henry Sy.