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Citigroup To Buy Loans From Societe Generale

Citigroup Inc. (C) is buying a portion of Societe Generale SA's (SCGLY, GLE.FR) portfolio of shipping loans, joining the group of U.S. banks buying businesses and assets from shrinking European banks. The two banks said they won't disclose the terms of the deal, and a short statement from Citi only said the two "are committed to working in a coordinated manner in order to make the transition as timely and efficient as possible for the borrowers." A person familiar with the matter said Citi paid $1.3 billion for the loans. The sale was earlier reported by Reuters. Many U.S. bankers have said they're interested in buying assets and businesses European banks are trying to shed in their effort to built capital. While some bankers simply take advantage of better loan pricing as European banks stop competing for borrowers in the U.S., others, particularly Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), have been aggressively buying portfolios. Competition was strong from U.S. banks for Royal Bank of Scotland Plc's (RBS, RBS.LN) aviation-leasing business, which eventually went to Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. (SMFG, 8613.TO). Earlier this week, Eurohypo AG sold $760 million in commercial real estate loans in major markets around the U.S. to U.S. Bancorp (USB), Wells Fargo and Blackstone Group LP (BX) for out 95 cent on the dollar. Wells Fargo Chief Executive John Stumpf and Chief Financial Officer Timothy Sloan have repeatedly said the San Francisco bank--the fourth largest by assets in the U.S.--is looking to buy more U.S. assets from European banks. It got $15 billion of loans when it bought BNP Paribas SA's (BNPQY, BNP.FR) energy lending business, and loans from Allied Irish Banks (AIBYY, ALBK.DB) and Bank of Ireland. Mr. Stumpf told investors in May, "As Europe continues to retreat back to their home countries and divest and so forth, we've been kicking tires and we've actually bought a few things that we really liked." Write to Matthias Rieker at matthias.rieker@dowjones.com

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