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Citi Still Fuzzy on Unwinding Risky Assets

Stocks in this article: C

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Citigroup (C) Vice Chairman Edward 'Ned' Kelly didn't provide much clarity on how long it will take the troubled firm to disentangle itself from its risky assets and businesses when speaking at an industry event Wednesday.

"It's very difficult to predict the precise trajectory," Kelly said during a presentation at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2009 Banking and Financial Services Conference held in midtown Manhattan. "Obviously we've made substantial progress."

Citi Holdings, which was separated from the company's core Citicorp operations in January, holds a combination of brokerage, insurance, and lending businesses as well as a pool of toxic assets.

Citi has been successful at divesting some operations, such as its Japanese brokerage and asset management units, and part of its Smith Barney brokerage business through a joint venture with Morgan Stanley (MS), as well as ancillary assets like a few retail partner credit card portfolios, but it's been rumored that finding buyers for other businesses like CitiFinancial has been tough. The company recently opted to pursue an initial public offering for its Primerica financial services and insurance unit, which is housed in the Citi Holdings portfolio.

Including the sale of Nikko Asset Management, which closed on Oct. 1, the company has reduced assets in Citi Holdings unit by $300 billion from the beginning of 2008, with $125 billion of that figure coming this year. At the end of the third quarter, Citi Holdings had assets of $617 billion. Roughly $205 billion of those assets, mostly attributable to the firm's local consumer lending operations, are backstopped by the government's loss-sharing plan.

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