NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Citigroup (C) appears to have sparked a bidding war by putting its U.S. consumer lending business on the chopping block, with big guns in the private-equity and banking world reportedly interested in buying the business.
According to Bloomberg, no less than four teams are bidding for the business - once known as CitiFinancial and now rebranded as OneMain Financial - which has about $13 billion in assets.
According to the report, one group interested in making a bid consits of BlackRock (BLK), KKR (KKR) and Warburg Pincus. That group is considering including Banco Santander (STD) as well. In an interview on Bloomberg TV, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said that if his firm made a bid for OneMain, "it would be on behalf of clients, not for our balance sheet."
Another group of interested suitors is reportedly being led by Brysam Global Partners, a private equity shop headed by former Citi President and AIG (AIG) CEO Robert Willumstad. That group also includes Blackstone (BX), Carlyle Group, Thomas H. Lee Partners and WL Ross & Co., according to Bloomberg.Separately, private-equity competitors Apollo Management and J.C. Flowers & Co. are considering a bid, the news agency said. A fourth bidding group reportedly includes Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Toronto-based Onex Corp. (OCX). Bloomberg cited anonymous sources and said spokespeople for Citi, BlackRock and Santander would not comment. Citi is trying to get at least $13 billion for the business, with a deadline set for next week, according to the report. Citi is selling the business, which caters to low-income and subprime consumers, because it caused tremendous losses during the crisis and doesn't fit into its strategy going forward. Other big financial firms, including Wells Fargo (WFC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC) and AIG, exited their similar lending business in recent years as well. AIG sold its consumer lending business, known as American General Finance, to Fortress Investment Group (FIG) last year. >>>Read More: What Wells Fargo's Move Really Means -- Written by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York.
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