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Citigroup says to close one third of Korea branches as costs, competition rise

A woman sits next to an advertisement board for interest rates of savings deposits for Citibank in central Seoul October 11, 2012. REUTERS/K
A woman sits next to an advertisement board for interest rates of savings deposits for Citibank in central Seoul October 11, 2012. REUTERS/K

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc said it will close almost one third of its branches in Korea, becoming the third global bank to trim its presence in the country in the last year amid rising costs and intense competition.

Citi will shut 56 out of 190 branches as it concentrates on six major cities and moves to boost its online presence, the U.S. bank said in a statement on Tuesday.

The bank announced last year that it would refocus its consumer business in Korea, reducing its physical footprint in favor of targeting customers with online products.

It follows HSBC <0005.HK> and Standard Chartered Bank <2888.HK> which both pulled back in a market that has seen weakening returns since the financial crisis.

Citi's move does not mean a full scale retreat from consumer banking in the country, the bank said.

(Reporting By Lawrence White; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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