Skip to main content

Passersby walk in front of a Citibank branch in New York, October 16, 2012.

KEITH BEDFORD/REUTERS

Citigroup Inc. is to shut almost half its branch network in Greece, where retail banking activity has dried up because of the country's debt crisis.

Citi, the last major international bank with a countrywide presence in Greece, will cut its network to 21 branches from 37 by shutting all branches outside Athens and Thessaloniki, it said in a statement on Wednesday. About 170 jobs will go, nearly a tenth of the lender's total work force in the country.

"The current business and economic environment requires adaptability... we will focus more on investment, deposit products and credit cards," a spokeswoman for Citi's Greek operations said.

Story continues below advertisement

Other foreign banks such as Crédit Agricole SA and Société Générale SA have sold the Greek businesses they bought during the country's economic boom, when lending expanded at double-digit rates following Greece's entry into the euro.

But since Greece's debt crisis took hold in late 2009, lending has shrunk and non-performing loans have soared partly as a result of austerity measures under the country's international bailout and also from the country's deepest recession since World War II.

Citi, which entered Greece in 1964, had a smaller-scale presence than the French banks and did not buy a local lender.

Several other foreign companies have pulled out of Greece completely because of the crisis, including French retail giants Fnac, Carrefour and Saturn Hansa, the consumer electronics unit of German retailer Metro.

U.K.-based coffee shop chain Costa Coffee suspended operations at its ten Greek stores earlier this week. Other foreign firms, such as Swedish furniture maker IKEA, are cutting wages.

Still, lower labour costs, as a result of austerity measures imposed by the country's international lenders, may be beginning to attract logistics and manufacturing jobs.

Computer giant Hewlett Packard agreed last week to use Greece's biggest port as a transport hub for southeast Europe and North Africa.

Story continues below advertisement

Consumer products giant Unilever also plans to shift part of its manufacturing to Greece from other European countries, the government said last week.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter