Mexico says no bias on potential buyers for Citigroup

Mexico says no bias on potential buyers for Citigroup

REUTERS Lucas Jackson File Photo

MEXICO CITY, Jan 12 Reuters - Mexico's government has no bias on potential buyers for the Citigroup assets that the U.S. bank is selling in Mexico, with both international and domestic bidders welcome, Finance Minister Rogelio Ramirez de la O said on Wednesday.

Ramirez told Reuters in an interview that the process would be open to everyone, and Citigroup said on Tuesday it was selling its consumer banking operations in Mexico.

He said that there were both national and foreign bidders with presence in Mexico and outside of Mexico. He said that the government did not want to influence or negatively affect the sale.

He said that it would be wrong for the government to give a signal at this point, because Mexico had no bias. Ramirez said the government and regulators would give careful consideration to the different bids as the process matured, and that Mexico wanted the Citibanamex assets up for sale to retain their value.

He said that interest is because we don't want account holders of Citibanamex to feel that they need to go to another bank.

Ramirez stressed that this was a task for the antitrust authority, the Federal Economic Competition Commission, but the finance ministry said it would be paying close attention to what the deal had for concentration of market power.

Mexico already has no Citibanamex. Ramirez said it was not up to him to make decisions on market concentration when asked if the antitrust concerns could make a bid tougher by Spain's BBVA, a top player in Mexico.

The two together have a lot of the market. The process of the sale would take time and the government had no interest in acquiring the Citigroup assets, Ramirez said. He didn't say how long that could be.