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With Reuters

Despite previous insistence that its expansion in Israel is on track, Citibank has decided to postpone opening a retail banking branch in Herzliya.

The bank, run by Gus Felix, attributed the delay to the change in Israel's economic and security climate, saying it had reevaluated the situation and decided the timing is not fortuitous.

Citibank will be dismissing 25 people subsequent to its decision to delay opening for business in Herzliya, Reuters reported.

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The Herzliya branch will be opened when the conditions are more appropriate, Citibank's spokesperson said, but declined to provide a time frame for moves in that direction.

Meanwhile, Citibank is running its operations out of central Tel Aviv offices. It also runs a loans office in Azrieli Center, Tel Aviv. The bank seems to have shelved thoughts of expanding through buying one of Israel's banks.

Citibank's original plan had reportedly been to open four retail banking branches in Jerusalem, Ra'anana and Herzliya.

The banking giant had announced its plans for retail banking in Israel just days before the intifada broke out in September 2000. The uprising, along with the global technology slump, sparked a deep recession.

"The bank will closely monitor developments over the coming months in the hope that the situation and operating environment will improve," it said.