Citigroup looks poised to make another run at selling a U.S. consumer lending unit that it has long wanted to shed.
OneMain Financial, which makes personal loans of up to $15,000 for debt consolidation, home improvements, and other purposes, first went on the block in 2009 as part of Citi’s strategy to sell units that were not part of its core business.
In January 2012 there were news reports that negotiations to sell OneMain to Berkshire Hathaway and two private-equity groups collapsed over concerns about how the business would be funded going forward. At the time, observers believed the business would have to be funded through the securitization of its loans, but the secondary market for consumer loans was weak.
Tuesday at an investor conference in New York, Citi Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said the bank continues to evaluate its options for exiting OneMain. To that end, he said that Citi could begin securitizing OneMain loans next year.
OneMain has around $10 billion in assets and is turning a profit, Gerspach said. “That said,” he added, “this business does not fit with Citigroup’s target customer segment.”
In other remarks, Gerspach gave a mixed assessment of Citi’s earning outlook for the fourth quarter.
He said that Citi’s investment banking results are tracking better than the third quarter, but are still expected to be down year over year.
Citi’s core operating expenses should fall somewhat in the fourth quarter, but legal costs are expected to remain high, according to Gerspach.
In the third quarter, Citi benefited from a $300 million reserve release related to North American mortgages, but that is not expected to be repeated, he said.
“Clearly, there are headwinds as we look to the fourth quarter,” Gerspach said, “but we continue to focus on expenses, and we maintain our favorable credit outlook."