NEW YORK (TheStreet) --Shares of Citigroup Inc. (C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report are down by 0.2% to $53.73 in mid-afternoon trading on Wednesday, as the government of Argentina is not planning to allow the financial institution to exit its local custody business, Reuters reports.
This could result in a fight between the leftist government and Citigroup over sovereign debt payments.
Citigroup is stuck in the middle of a court battle between Argentina and a group of hedge funds based in New York City that were awarded full payment on their defaulted sovereign bonds by a U.S. district judge, Reuters noted.
The judge's ruling bars Argentina from servicing other debt and keeps financial institutions from processing payments until the funds are paid.
Argentina is arguing that the judge's decision violates its national sovereignty and has threatened to revoke Citibank Argentina's license if it does not process the next payment, Reuters added.
"There is no way we'll let them exit their (custody) business," a government source told Reuters.
On Tuesday, Citigroup said it's planning on selling portions of its Argentinian custody business or ending some of its customer relationships.
Citigroup acts a custodian of some of Argentina's bonds, processing payments for the ultimate security holder.
The firm's decision to exit the business could make it more difficult for the government to continue its efforts to pay bondholders and return to global markets, Reuters said.
Insight from TheStreet's Research Team:
Jim Cramer, Portfolio Manager of the Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio commented on Citigroup in a recent post on RealMoney.com. Here is what Cramer had to say about the stock:
You have to admit that we live in times of tremendous dissatisfaction with stock prices, even, in some cases, when they are good.
First, let's take the banks. You would have thought that the Federal Reserve fired a starting pistol last night when it announced that 25 banks had been okayed to return capital to shareholders. One after another announced some fairly bountiful dividend boosts and share buybacks. We are nowhere near where we were in terms of the sizes of dividends or share counts -- meaning there's a ton of shares out there, and not nearly as much going to shareholders in terms of dividends as there were before the great recession. But it is a pleasant sight to see executives tripping over each other to reward long-suffering shareholders with some excellent bounty.
I am particularly impressed by the job that Mike Corbatt's doing at Citigroup as he truly stuck his neck betting that he would get the approval the bank now richly deserves, and now that bank stock can start working its way back to some semblance of where it was before the downturn.
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Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates CITIGROUP INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate CITIGROUP INC (C) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed - some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations and solid stock price performance. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: C Ratings Report