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Bank Consumer Units Get No M&A Love

Stocks in this article: C HBC ING BAC DFS COF AXP

Pricing has been a problem for Citigroup which is trying to divest CitiFinancial, and has reportedly lost bidders along the way including a team bid including Blackstone, Carlyle, THL Capital and WL Ross and Apollo Management and JC Flowers, according to The New York Post. Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Onex's offer was rejected according to a report by FinAlternatives. This would leave only Leucadia National Corp. and Centerbridge Capital Partners as bidders.

"You know private equity will only want to buy it if they can turn it around and monetize it over a typical 5-7 year cycle," said Zilka about the reports.

The asset is valued at $2 billion. Citigroup has said they will not sell the asset below market value and hope to sell the asset by the end of 2011.

Meanwhile, ING Direct USA is a, "completely different animal," says Chip MacDonald of Jones Day. The sale of ING Direct would fulfill the requirements imposed by the European Commission to pay back the rest of its 10 billion euro bailout. Ally Financial, CIT (CIT), Discover Financial (DFS) and American Express (AXP) have been rumored to be potential bidders for the unit, which is valued at about $10 billion, according to reports.

Marquardt believes that sales will return after the summer once questions concerning the Durbin Amendment or the debit interchange regulations are addressed in July; and Strategically Important Financial Institutions (SIFI) capital requirements have been fleshed out. SIFIs are financial institutions that regulators believe could pose systemic risk. Both issues are currently being debated by regulators and are likely to impact banks' bottom lines, says Marquardt.

Citigroup, HSBC and ING declined to comment .

--Written by Maria Woehr in New York.

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