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Citigroup selling Belgian retail assets

Citigroup Inc. is selling its Belgian consumer business to French bank Credit Mutuel Nord Europe as the New York bank continues to sell off operations that it deems are outside its core business.

The company didn't disclose the deal's terms.

Citigroup and other banks hurt by 2008's financial meltdown and the economic downturn have been selling off "noncore" divisions. For example, Citigroup sold a $1.7 billion private equity portfolio to a French bank in June.

Citigroup said it has reduced the assets within Citi Holdings by more than $582 billion since the peak in 2008's first quarter. The company also is trimming its work force and recently announced it will cut 4,500 jobs -- or about 1.5 percent of its global work force of 267,000 -- over the next few quarters.

Citigroup was one of the biggest recipients of taxpayer support during the financial crisis. It received $45 billion in bailouts funds and was partly owned by the government until December 2010.

The company said Wednesday that Citibank Belgium SA has 700 workers and 500,000 customers. Citigroup said it will continue to serve corporate and institutional clients in Belgium through its Institutional Banking and Global Transaction Services franchises.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012.

Shares of Citigroup fell 77 cents, or 2.86 percent, to $26.13 on Wednesday, edging near the bottom of its price range from $21.40 to $51.50 for 2011.

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