PULSE NEWS MEXICO
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s Inbursa financial group announced on Wednesday, Nov. 23, that it was withdrawing from its former commitment to purchase Banamex, Citigroup’s consumer and corporate banking business in Mexico.
“After the presentation of a nonbinding proposal for the acquisition of said businesses, the parties have mutually agreed that Imbursa will not continue in the following stages of the process,” Imbursa announced in a written statement to the Mexican Stock Exchange (BMV).
Inbursa had been considered as the most likely Mexican group to win the bid to buy Citibanamex after Grupo Financiero Banorte withdrew from the race shortly after the Oct. 20 deadline for binding offers.
Meanwhile, Spanish-based Santander’s offer was rejected in July.
The departure of Slim’s bank leaves Mexican mining magnate Germán Larrea, who controls the conglomerate Grupo México (GMéxico), facing off against a group of international and local investors led by the Mexican bank Mifel, under the helm of Daniel Becker, who also presides over the Mexican Banking Association (ABM).
However, sources familiar with the negotiations surrounding the sell-off — which Citigroup announced at the beginning of the year as part of its efforts to exit some international operations — had stated that Banca Mifel lacked the financial backing to compete with the proposals of Slim and Larrea.
“We are actively in dialogue with potential buyers and remain committed to pursuing a path that maximizes value for our shareholders,” a Citibank spokesman said of Inbursa’s decision to leave the process.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has publicly expressed his desire that the buyer of Citibank’s businesses in Mexico be a Mexican company.
Slim, the country’s richest man, was named as one of López Obrador’s preferred local investors to take over Banamex, which has a long history as Mexico’s leading bank and was acquired by the Citi Group in 2001.