Citigroup sells stake in Japanese call center

AP News
Posted: Nov 15, 2009 2:01 PM

Citigroup Inc. said Sunday that it is selling its controlling stake in Japan's leading call center operator, Bellsystem24, to private equity firm Bain Capital Partners in a deal that values the operation at $1.1 billion.

Under terms of the deal, Citi's private investment unit, Citigroup Capital Partners Japan, will receive $1 billion in cash for its 93.5 percent stake in the call center operator.

New York-based Citigroup in October completed the sale of its Japanese brokerage to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. in a $8.7 billion deal that advanced the bank's efforts to restructure after big losses on risky investments.

The bank, one of the hardest hit during the credit crisis and recession, has reported huge losses in the past two years as its investments and consumer loans and credit cards soured. Citigroup received $45 billion in loans from the U.S. government, which now owns a 34 percent stake in the bank. It has also received guarantees to protect against losses on more than $300 billion in risky assets.

As part of its efforts to recover, Citigroup is selling assets it acquired over the years as it became one of the world's largest players in banking, insurance and financial services.

Bain Capital, which has investments in companies such as Toys "R" Us and Burger King, established offices in Tokyo in 2006.